The University of North Carolina
NORTH CAROLINIAN A
JOHN SPRUNT PULL
of the Class of 1889
\ 'S GO ' (
-.m^ .w ,.-^§Li> -^ ^^A^o^i^:.'-^^^^^^^^^^^ J:"S.*^^.o:*P-
and if ^_^;^'
This hook must not
he taken from the
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
JNT O H. T H- C:? -A. R OH. I INT j^.
CONTAINING A STATEMENT OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE
SCIENCE UPON WHICH THE PRACTICES OF
AGRICULTURE, AS AN ART, ARE
E B E N E Z E R EMMONS
^^ RALEIGH : ^
W.^'. HOLDEN, PRINTER TO T!^ STATE.
^ I860, v^- ^
To His EMellency, John W. Ellis,
Governor of North- Carolina :
Sir I Althongli your station in life withheld your hands from the
active and laborious duties of husbandry, yet, in the discharge of
your former official duties, you were furnished with constant oppor*
tunities to acquire exact information of the state and condition of
Agriculture throughout the State. It is no doubt for this reason
that you have so frequently expressed the strong interest for the
improvements in this department of labor, and the more general
dift'usion of information upon those subjects which are intimately
related to it.
By your permission and advice I have been led to undertake
the preparation of several works upon the Agriculture of the State.
The first is designed to be preparatory to those which will follow,
and although the subject matters are by no means easily treated,
yet I am encouraged to hope I shall so far succeed as to present
them in a form and in a language which can be understood by the
I am, sir.
Tour obedient servant,
Ralmgh, Mavoh 1, 1-660,
The principles of Agriculture set forth in the following pages are
designed for the use of Planters and Farmers of this State. The
subjects involving the principles herein detailed, are not so fully
treated of as in other works of a higher aim, and which profess to
be scientific ; but we hope that they belong to a class which may
be regarded as the leading principles of Agriculture ; and there-
fore, may secure the attention of those for whom they are designed.
In consequence of the fixed prejudices to change modes of"
culture, and the strong tendency to unbelief of promised advaur
tages when mcdifications of a system of husbandry are proposed^^
it has happened that prolessional men have taken the lead and ad-
vanced forward, when the regular bred farmer has stood stilh The-
lawyer, the physician, and merchant, men of capital,, who' have
been disposed to retire from their professions have been generally
more ready to follow new modes of culture, and to. engage in some-
what more expensive experiments than the farmer. It istrue, .their
example has not been followed immediately,, and' indeed, they
have not always succeeded ; but their resiajts hav^e often been so
striking, as to arrest attention, and it baa- worked in some way or
other to the advantage of agriculture ;; sometimes by exciting the
pride or vanity of the regular bred farmer, who feels that he ought,;
not to be outdone or outshone ia cropa or cattle; and has thei^^r-
fore, been led to attempt on his- part to, outdo a competitor,. w\hoi
has placed himself irregularly in the ranks of laboring men* B^v
way of illustration, we may mention, Livingston, who introdneed
plaster, by which the agriculture ofuNew York was revolutionized.
LiEBiG, a chemist, first gr:ej:|ared and recommended the use of the
superj)hosjphat6 of Z^mJSj, which had, a decided inJBluenCiei upon the
progress of agriculture.. The introduction, of fertilizers of this-
class could not fail to su,ggest many others, and hence, a multitude
of mineral substaaaes have been tried with varied tsuecess.
The faithful rea,der, of the following pages m,ay probably observe .
that certain fa§j9..,a;P.d prmcjplea aj:e repeated i ift, different parts of ■
the work ; if so, it will be found that they stand in different rela-
tions, and hence, are possessed of a greater value; we are not
always losers by repetitions, when we can present them under a
new phase. We have prepared this work, because we considered
it necessary to carry out the objects of the survey. It is intended
to prepare the way for other works which require a knowledge of
the facts and principles contained in this. Agriculture is com-
manding more attention than formerly. Products, which ten years
ago were unprofitable, have become profitable, because of the
greater facilities and a diminished expense in reaching the markets
of the world. Every mile of railroad helps the farmer, as his pro-
ducts are heavy, and are often both heavy and bulky. He re-
quires, therefore, more than any other citizen, public facilities.
As the world now moves, time is doubly imporiant, and to attempt
to reach a distant market with flour, corn or cotton, with the old
six horse or mule team, would be utterly ruinous. It was impossi-
ble to revive agriculture under the old dynasty, inaction; but the
advantages of public improvements are now so strongly felt that
very few remain to oppose them: the great care which now de-
volves upon this generation of active and influential men, is to
direct them judiciously.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
General remarks. Obstacles which retard the diffusion of knowledge among
farmers. Errors often due to imperfect observations. Case in point relating
to acid soils. How experiments should be conducted. 9 — 14.
The difficulty of classifying soils systematically. Varieties of soils. Soil elements.
Derivation. Composition of rocks which furnish soils. Weight of soils.
Average quantity of silex in soils. Carbonate of lime in soils. Losses which
soils sustain in cultivation well established. Temperature an essential element
in productive . soils. Soils of the Southern States remain iii situ. Organic
elements of soil. Inorganic elements, etc. 14 — 27.
The organic part of a soil and variety of names under which it is known. Changes
which it undergoes, and the formation of new bodies by the absorption of
oxygen. Fertihzers in North-Carohna. Green crops. Mutual action of
elements of soils upon each other. Composition of one or two of the chemical
products of soils, showing the sources of carbon in the plant. 27—32.
The mechanical condition of soils differ. Circulation of water in the soil with
its saline matter. Capability of bearing drouth. How to escape from the
effects of drouth. Temperature of soils. Influenced by color. "Weight of
soils, etc. 32—36.
Mechanical treatment of soils. Deep plowing. Advantages of draining. Open
drains. Plowing. Objects attained by plowing. Harrowing. Roller. Im-
provement of soils by mixture. Hoeing. Effects of hoeing. 36 — 42.
Soil elements preserve the proportions very nearly as they exist in the parent
rock. Weight of different kinds of soils. Most important elements of soil
represented by fractions. Effects of small doses of fertilizers explained. Nature
deals out her nutriment in atom doses, and so does the successful florist.
Fertilizers defined. Their necessity. Mechanical means of improvements of
soil. Effects of lime. Growth is the result of change in the constitution of the
fertilizers employed. Organs have each their own special influence upon the
fertilizing matter they receive. Provisions for sustaining vegetable life. A
system of adaptive husbandry. Instances cited. Adaptation of a crop to the
soil. What fertilizers will aid in ripening the crop at the right time. The
source of fertilizers. Green crops. Peat. Advantages of a green crop. Marine
plants. Straw. Losses of farmyard manure. Peat, how prepared for use.
Composts. Fertilizers of animal origin. Solids and fluids. 45 — 61.
VUl TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Solid excrements. Guano. Composition and comparative value. Discrepances
Mineral fertilizers. Sulphates. Native phosphates. Carbonates. Nitrates. Sil-
icates. Ashes. Analysis of the ash of the white oak. Composition of peat
ashes. Management of volatile and other fertilizers. 67 — 84.
The quantity or ratio of the inorganic elements in a plant may be increased by
cultivation. Source of nitrogen. Specific action of certain manures, particu-
larly salts. Farmyard manure never amiss. Use of phosphate of magnesia.
Special manures sometimes fail, as gypsum. 84 — 87.
On the periodical increase of the corn plant. The white flmt, together with the
increase of leaves and other organs. The proportions of the inorganic elements
in the several parts of their composition. The quantity of inorganic matter in
an acre of corn, and in each of the parts composing the plant. Remarks upon
the statistics of composition. 87 — 95.
Value of foliage for animal consumption depends upon the quantity of two differ-
ent classes of bodies : heat producing and flesh producing bodies. These two
classes are the proximate organic bodies, and are ready formed in the vegetable
organs. Proximate composition illustrated by two varieties of maize. Their
comparative value. Analysis of several other varieties of maize for the pur-
pose of illustrating difference of composition as well as their different values.
Composition of timothy, etc. 95 — 100.
Composition of tuberous plants with respect to their nutritive elements. Irish
potatoe. Sweet potatoe. Their nutritive values compared. 100 — 102.
Composition of the ash of fruit trees ; as the peach, apple, pear, Catawba grape.
Amount of carbon or pure charcoal which some of the hard woods give by
ignition in closely covered crucibles. 102 — 105.
Nitrogenous fertilizers most suitable for the cereals. Correlation of means and
ends which meet in fertilizers. The final end of nitrogenous bodies. The
power to store up or consume fertilizers modified by age, exercise and tempera-
ture. Error in cattle husbandry. Crops containing the largest amount of nu-
triment. Weights of crops, etc. Indian corn and turnips. Sweet potatoes.
The produce of an acre of cabbage, etc. 105 — 112.
SURVEY OF KORTH-CAROLINA,
Makch, 1860. E. EiiMONS.
Greneral remarks. Obstacles which retard the diffusion of knowledge among
Farmers. Errors often due to imperfect observations. Case in point relat-
ing to acid soils. How experiments to be useful should be conducted.
§ 1. Ageictjltuke is regarded as an art and a science. As
an art, its practice comprehends the preparation of the earth for
the reception of seed, and the mechanical state best fitted for the
perfection of a crop.
As a science, it comprehends that kind of knowledge which re-
lates to th(j structure and composition of vegetables, their adaptions
to climate, soil, and the relation which any members of the king-
dom hold to the forces of nature. The successful practice of the
art, is more or less dependent upon agricultural science, though in
the order of time, art preceded science. This fact may seem to
contradict the foregoing assertion, nevertheless its truth may bo
made to appear from sundry considerations. In the first place, the
practice of the art is founded upon the simplest observations when
the soil was fresh from the hand of nature and rich in all the ele-
ments of growth, when nothing perhaps was required but to gather
the fruit and watch the progress of the seasons.
When improvement was attempted more attention was required.
The grafting of one kind of fruit upon another must have demand-^
ed a knowledge of the structure and functions of bark, stem and the
circulation of sap. The success would depend upon a purely scien--
10 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVICT.
tific conception, which would suggest the proper artistic mode of
procedure. Accident must frequentl}'^ have promoted discoveries,
but accident happens in vain to the man who neglects to think,
and perceive the real nature of results and how they came to pass.
Accident in the presence of GtAlvani laid the foundation of the
beautiful science of galvanism ; the same accident in the presence
often or a hundred other men may not have awakened a single
idea beyond the naked fact.
Accident, therefore, though it may have done much for science
as well as art, yet it is only when it has occurred under the eyes of
thinking men ; in them alone will be awakened the germ of a prac-
It is not to accident however that progress in science or the arts
is expected. An unexpected result may and often occurs which
is turned to account; still, it is by a train of systematized knowledge
that agriculture must depend for its future progress. The more
exact this knowledge becornea the more we may hope from its gen-
§ 2. Governed by the foregoing views we have proposed to pre-
face a series of agricultural papers by stating as fully as the nature
of the subject demands the elements of scientific and practical agri-
culture. In former reports, we have not entirely neglected or
overlooked this part of the subject, but to add to the value of our
agricultural investigations, it seems that something more than a
few isolated principles should accompany the reports. The public
mind is now awakened to the importance of book knowledge as it
has been called. Old prejudices and old practices are giving away,
these should be replaced by something more sound or rational, or
more in accordance with recently established principles. In agri-
culture there still remains much that is obscure or has not been
satisfactorily explained. When a true reason can be given for
modes of successful or unsuccessful culture, agriculture will then
have attained its highest stage of perfection. But agriculture re-
quires extensive knowledge, and it will happen when this stage has
been reached, that agriculturalists will rank with the most learned
of the professions. That it is progressing to such a stage we enter-
tain no doubts ; for most of the natural history sciences are con-
stantly contributing their discoveries to this ultimate result. But
for results so desirable, time is an essential element, and no one
NORTH-CAROLINA IDEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 11
should expect an immediate fulfilment when so much remains to be
discovered and when no doubt, a great deal has yet to be unlearnt
or must still bear a doubtful import.
§ 3. One of the great obstacles in the way of a general dif-
fusion of agricultural knowledge, especially to the farmer who
makes no claim to a scientific education, is the frequent occurrence
of hard names or words. A book is often thrown down in despair
when so much meets the eye which is unknown. How to get
around this difiiculty is not yet clear ; it is a difficulty which is
complained of even b}'' persons who have no just right for com-
plaint. Even a word so common as ammonia^ perplexes many,
and although it is frequently translated hartshorn^ yet how this
pungent vaporous body can play so important a part in husbandry
cannot be comprehended. There is certainly a grain or two of com-
mon sense in this ; for as ammonia is usually spoken of, it would
seem unfitting that it should enter the structure of vegetables as
hartshorn, and that it is hartshorn itself which is so important to
vegetation, whereas, it is no such thing; it is only a body whicli
contains a needful element which it furnishes by decomposition.
Its properties are due to powers conferred upon the vegetable
kingdom. Knowing this body as a powerful stimulant to the sense
of smell, does not impart to us a property fitting the sphere it is
said to fill. It is so with many other bodies whose names often
occur, as sulphuric and nitric acids. Many points relating to these
powerful bodies should be more fully explained, and no doubt
much of lihe prejudice of common minds to book knowledge arises
from a misapprehension of subjects. How, for example, can a
person who has been told that ammonia and nitric acid or aqua
fortis are fertilizers, but would at once question the validity of the
information. Something more is necessary then, than to be told
that certain bodies are fertilizers ; they should also know the reason
why they are so, and the conditions under which they become so.
To understand these points, something must be known of the
powers conferred upon the vegetable kingdom, as well as upon the
state and condition under which simple or compound bodies be-
come really fertilizers at all. A systematic treatise on husbandry
requires that certain elementary facts relating to the origin or
source of soils and nutriment of vegetables should be sJt least
12 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
§ 4. The importance of established principles as they are
considered in the present state of agricultural knowledge, induces
us then to state somewhat in detail their practical bearing.
Facts differ from principles. The latter are deductions from the
former. It is often the case that what are regarded as facts are
imperfect observations. Principles which may be deduced from
supposed facts may be, and often are, wrong. "When practice is
based upon observation, it is quite necessary we should not be
mistaken in our facts. We may cite one or two examples of a
mistaken theory based upon imperfect observation and an igno-
rance of the functions which the vegetable kingdom performs.
Thus the idea of an injurious acid in the soil is the basis of the applica-
tion of marl and lime to correct that condition, and the inference is,
that the beneficial effects of marling is due solely to the correction of
acidity. The acidity itself is founded upon the growth of sheep
sorrel, pine and other plants, which impart the taste of sourness to
the palate. Sheep sorrel, however, grows upon poor soil — not
upon an acid soil, for it otten grows around lime kilns, where it is
impossible that an acid should exist at all. We have seen it grow-
ing with great vigor through a stratum of air-slacked lime two
inches thick, where it had been thrown from a lime kiln. We
have seen sheep sorrel also covering a dry hill-side which had be-
come poor by cultivation ; whereas, it is rare to see this plant
growing in moist peaty grounds, where acids from vegetable de-
composition are usually expected. The fact is, in all plants which
impart to the palate an acid taste, we may be assured it is not due
to an acid soil, but to the action of their own peculiar organization,
and this acid will be found to exist under any condition in which
the plant can bo grown. The soil has really no agency in its pro-
duction ; for sow sorrel seed in white pure sand and water, with
that which is free from acidity, and the sorrel will be acid ; it is
characteristic of the plant, and indej)endent of the soil in which it
grows. Yet marl is useful, though our notions of its action are
erroneous ; still the question is highly practical ; it would govern
our practice in the quantity to be used ; for if it is merely wanted to
correct acidity, a small quantity will suflSce for that. Whereas, if
it is maintained that it furnished directly or indirectly food to the
crop, a much greater quantity will be required.
NOETH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 13
§ 5. Another instance of an erroneous view of the operation of lime
was related a few years ago at an agricultural meeting by the
President of a State Agricultural Society. He said, he had used
lime on two different kinds of soil. 1st. On a sandy soil, and at a
certain amount per acre. He could not discover the slightest ben-
eficial effects. He therefore concluded lime was good for nothing
for sandy soils. He then tried it upon a clay soil. This experi-
ment too was a failure, as he could not perceive that his crop was
increased in amount. His general conclusion, therefore, was that
the benefits of lime had been greatly overrated.
!N^ow both conclusions were erroneous, because all the facts
oi the case had not been investigated. In the first instance
the conclusion that the crop upon the sand was not improved by
lime was true, but it does not follow that lime upon sandy soils is
always useless, that contradicts the equally good experience of oth-
ers. The fact was, the sandy soil was in a great measure destitute
of organic matter, and hence the failure. We do noi stop now to
state the reason in greater detail ; this subject will be considered
fully hereafter. In the second instance, the clay soil, the conclu-
sion that the crop did not appear to be benefitted by marl was no
doubt true, but the speaker appears not to have at all apprehended
the cause; it was not because it was a clay soil, but because there
was already enough lime in the clay, there being not less than five
per cent. We find, therefore, that the result of simple experiment,
though made by the President of an Agricultural Society, may
entirely mislead a community when all the associated facts are
ignored. It turns out that lime is a fertilizer only upon certain
conditions; those conditions must be complied with. Where it
already exists in the soil to a large amount, it can only be useful
in a Caustic state. In this condition it affects both the chemical
and mechanical condition, but is not necessary to form certain com-
binations by which a fertilizing substance is, as it were, generated
or in part formed.
Experiments then, to be useful, must be ccnducted with a know-
ledge of all the essential points which bear upon the results obtained.
The nature of the soil must be understood — the general composition
of the fertilizers employed. In other words the experimenter must
know what he is about.
14 NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL, 8UEVET.
The difficulty of classifying soils systematically. Varieties of soils. Soil ele-
ments. Derivation. Composition of rocks which furnish soils. Weight of
soils. Average quantity of silex in soils. Carbonate of lime in soils. Losses
vphich soils sustain in cultivation well established. Temperature an essential
element in productive soils. Soils of the Southern States remain in situ.
Organic elements of soils. Inorganic elements, etc.
§ 6. Soils cannot be systematically classified. We may
divide them so that, considered in the extreme, the strong lines of
demarkation will appear quite distinct, as a clay soil and a sandy
one, but these graduate into each other and the lines of demarka-
tion disappear insensibly. So we find peaty soils, and in districts
where chalk underlies the surface soil, we may distini;uish a cal-,
careous soil, but both kinds lose their characteristics by intermix-
tures of clay and sand. We may however, say with truth, of any
particular locality, that it has an argilaceous, calcareous or sandy
soil as the case may be. Such a statement should be made, but
this does not amount to a classification. We shall not, therefore,
attempt the arrangement of soils into a systematic classification ; it
will be sufficient to indicate in our nomenclature the predominant
element, whether it is clay, sand, lime or vegetable matter. It is
not, however, proper to omit the statement that sand or silex is the
basis of all soils except those in which organic matter greatly pre-
ponderates, for, in clay soils silex still exceeds in quantity the clay,
but still clay maslxs the silex, though it is less than one-half, and
hence has to be treated as an argilaceous soil.
But the real nature of soil is not fully stated, by any means when
they are merely referred generally to the preponderating element,
there is left out of view certain elements which, so far as fertility is
concerned, are quite as important, though they exist only in minute
proportions. We shall, however, take the ground tliat all the ele-
ments of a soil are important, and take away entirely any one of
them and its fertility will be aff'ected for certain crops at least, if
not for all.
§ 7. The soil elements are only few, when compared with the
number of known simple bodies; thas, while the known elements
amount to about sixty-two or three, only about thirteen or fourteen
NOETH-OAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 15
play any considerable part for the benefit of the vegetable kingdom.
The latter are embraced in the following list, viz: Oxygen, hydro-
gen, nitrogen, sulphur, carbon, phosphorus, the base of silex, or
silicon potash, soda, lime, magnesia, clay or alumine, iron and
manganese. Iodine and chorine also exist in plants and soils.
Potash, soda, lime, magnesia are compounds of oxygen and a metal,
whose names terminate in %im — as potassium, sodium, calcium, &c.
The first seven which stand in the list, are unmetalic bodies, the
last seven are metals. Oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen in their
free or uncombined states, are aeriform bodies; the others are
solids possessing different weights. The foregoing bodies or ele-
ments exist in the rocks which compose the earth's crust, not how-
ever as simple bodies, but in combination with each other, forming
what are usually known as simple minerals. Thus, quartz, mica, fels-
par, hornblende, talc, serpentine, carbonate of lime consist of these
elements, and furnish them when they decompose or disintegrate into
soil. The foregoing minerals constitute the great mass of the earth's
crust. To take an example of the number of elements which a
simple mineral as hornblende furnishes may be seen by the results
of analysis. Thus hornblende, felspar and serpentine ai*e compos-
HOENBLENDB^ FELffPAB. BKBPENTINE.
Silex, 45.69 66.75 43.07
Alumine, 12.18 17.50 0.25
Lime, 13.83 1.25 0.50
Potash and Soda, 12.00 12.75
Magnesia, 18.79 40.37
Oxide of Iron and Manganese, 7.32 0.75 1.11
A simple or homogeneous substance, therefore, furnishes many
soil elements, and as rocks, such as granite, gneiss, mica slate, horn-
blende, are made up of several minerals in mixture, or are aggre-
gates, we may see how a single rock furnishes all the essential ele-
ments of nutrition.
The rocks which are composed usually of simple minerals, yield
one or two elements in excess : silex and alumine, and hence these
necessarily predominate in most soils. Almost all of these minerals
furnish other bodies in minute doses, potash, and soda, together with
combinations of lime and silex, potash and soda with phosphoric acid.
16 NORTa-CAROLlNA GEOLOGICAL STTETEY.
The latter forms such small proportions that thej were at one time set
down as accidental and unessential soil elements, but now they are
known to be all-important.
§ 8. The mechanical condition and weight of any soil depends
upon the existence of the predominating element. Sandy soils
have a loose porous texture while an argilaceous one has a close
one, and may be impervious to water.
The weight of soils is dependent of course upon composition*
A cubic foot of dry silicious soil weighs,* 111.3 pounds,
A sandy clay, 97.8
Calcareous sand, 113.6
Loamy clay, 88.5
Stiff clay, 80.3
Slaty marl, 112.
A soil richly charged With vegetable mould, , . 68.7
Common arable soil, 84.5
The average weight is about 94.58, and when charged with water
will Weigh 126.6 pounds.
§ 9. Soils which are formed from the debris of rocks, contain a
large though variable proportion of sand and silex. Of one hun-
dred and forty-six soils of Massachusetts, the average quantity of
silex is T1.733. This is insoluble matter. The soluble and that which
is fitted ultimately to enter into the composition of vegetables is
about 15 per cent., of which 2.075 is a salt of lime. The midland
counties of ]^. Carolina furnish coincident results. But the eastern
counties, which have extensive tracts of swamp lands, differ con-
siderably from the foregoing. The silex and aluminein many large
tracts, amounts to less than 50 per cent., and sometimes is even
less than five, oi indeed must be classed as a peat unsuitable to
Of lime, which is so much talked about, and is truly an essential
element in soil, it appears from hundreds of analyses, that it rarely
exists in large proportions. Such is the case in the soils of New
York, even where tliey overlie a limestone, its average quantity
rarely exceeds one per cent., and in large tracts it scarcely comes
Dana's Muck Manual, p. 36.
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 17
ti'p to on^-half of one per cent. In the western States there is about
1.50 per cent. In 48 European soils, noticed by Dana, it is 1.860.
European soils agree generally with American ; all things, there-
fore, being equal, their treatment with fertilizers will be based upon
similar rules. We must not, however, disregard the influence of
climate and temperature. These are important elements in agri-
culture, but so far as the composition of the soils of all the great
geographical divisions are concerned, their differences have arisen
from cultivation mainly ; in their natural state they were much alike.
§ 10. Soils are analyzed for the purpose of determining their con-
stituents. Under long cultivation some of the important elements
are so much diminished that fertility cannot be claimed for them.
We shall show hereafter how soils become infertile, and what becomes
of the fertilizing matter. The proof that soils actually part with cer-
tain elements essential to fertility has been fully ascertained and de-
termined. This result is certainly due to chemistry, and it is a great
result ; for, for a long time the contrary was maintained, and even
now many believe that by a rotation of crops and good manipula-
tion, soils may be maintained for an indeflnite period in a state of
productiveness. So, also, it has been believed, and is still in cer-
quarters, that lands thrown out to commons, or to remain a few
years fallow, will recover their original fertility. The sooner, how-
ever, such opinions are abandoned the better, as they lead to an
erroneous system of agriculture.
A destructive practice really grew out of the doctrine, it
was the continued use of the axe and fire, followed by long fal-
lows when exhaustion was nearly completed. It demanded exten-
sive plantations, and had such a system of extermination of timber
been followed in a more northerly clime, the loss of wood and tim-
ber would have become a severe calamity.
§ 11. I have observed that temperature independent of the
composition of soil is an essential element in agricultural practice.
It often determines the kind of crop as well as the season when it
is to be planted. In England maize finds an incompatible climate,
and hence, as a substitute for grain wherewith to fatten cattle, root
crops as the turnip is resorted to. Maize germinates in a soil when
its temperature is as low as 60°, and also when it rises to 105.
Germination is however arrested when the temperture reaches 116-
120. In tropical regions the order of things is somewhat changed.
18 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVEY.
So much heat exists in the period answering to our summer that
wheat, barley and oats are sown in the coolest months. So in
mountainous regions, temperature becomes the controlling element.
In the latitude of the Swiss Alps in Europe, wheat ceases to germi-
nate at 3400 feet which corresponds to the latitude of 64°.
Oats, at 3500, corresponding to latitude, 64°
Kye, at 4600, corresponding to latitude, 67°
Barley, 4800, corresponding to latitude, 70°
In Northern New York at the hight of 2000 feet above the
ocean, wheat is an uncertain crop, or is liable to be cut off by an
early frost ; while oats, barley and rye come to maturity. So far
as these facts go, it appears that the solid masses of the globe as
the rocks, have little influence upon crops; but at the same time
cultivation never fails to produce its influence, that of impoverish-
ing the soil.
I have shown in a former report that the soils of the Southern
States are not only formed from the rocks of the country, but that
the}^ remain upon the place where they are formed or in situ.
The proof may be found in every railroad cutting from Virginia to
Alabama. Wherever a quartz vein penetrated the rock it remains
unchanged in position, it presents the interesting and curious phe-
nomenon of an irregular band which seems now to have been
forced through yielding and soft materials. Quartz veins standing
up for 20 feet unsupported except by soft yielding materials. It is
rare to see any thing of the kind in New York or New England.
There, at some former period such soft materials with their veins
of quartz were swept off by a mighty flood of waters. This erosion
no doubt extended deeply or down to the solid plane of rock. No
flood however, has disturbed the debris of rocks in North-Carolina,
and hence it is no doubt true that this debris is really one of the
most ancient products of the globe, equaling in age the Silurian or
Devonian systems ; still there is no clue by which its age can be
exactly determined, it is now a soil often 25 to 50 feet deep. This
condition of the soil no doubt has some important influence upon
its agricultural capabilities. The plough in many places must con-
tinue to bring up for years an unexhausted soil where the mass is
penetrable. This new soil turned up by deep plo ighing, however,
is necessarily coarse, especially where it is derived from the coarse
schists, as gneiss and mica slate, hence it requires before it is really
NOETH-GAEOLINA GEOLOGtCAL SURVEY. 19
prepared to receive a crop to be exposed to the chemical influence
of the air and the action of frosts whose effects are mainlj to in-
crease its fineness.
§ 12. Simple bodies enumerated in a foregoing paragraph seem
to require a fuller notice, particularly as to their properties or func-
tions as soil elements. Wlien either of them is isolated they ap-
pear to be neutral bodies ; that is, they manifest but little disposi-
tion to form combinations. Nitrogen and hydrogen would re-
main in contact w^itli each other for ages wn'thout entering into
combination. Oxygen and hydrogen never combine when con-
fined together in a vessel, A force is necessary ti > effect it in eitlier
case. A flame however, unites them suddenly, attended with a
violent explosion. When burnt in streams issuing from small
orifices, they combine evolving great heat and intense light. The
product of combination is water, and nothing else. Most bodies
have a strong aflinity for oxygen ; and hence, it is an element
common to most solids. The air or atmosphere is composed of oxy-
gen and nitrogen, water, of oxygen and hydrogen, iron rust of
iron and oxygen ; potash, of oxygen and potassium; soda, of oxy-
gen and sodium ; lime, of oxj'gen and calcium. The general
term for compounds of the metals with oxygen is, '^'oxide^ as (>xide
of iron, manganese, lead, copper, &c. Oxygen when isolated is
always aeriform; and has never been condensed into a solid or
liquid. It is the essential element in combustion as usually under-
stood, and is the only body capable of supporting life by respiration.
"When the word oxygen occurs we can scarcely fail to be remind-
ed of it agency in sustaining life, and for supporting combustion.
From these two facts, we may proceed farther, and call to mind
that it forms a great class of bodies, called oxides. ISTeithercan we
fail to consider that it changes the condition of all bodies with which
it unites. Water is unlike oxygen or hydrogen. Oxide ot iron
has no property in common with either of its elements.
§ 13. Htdkogen, is the lightest body known, and is always aei-
form except when in combination. It lias neither taste or smell,
* The word oxide, properly terminates in ide and not yde^ because in framing
the nomenclature, this termination was fixed upon ; according to idiom it would
be spelt oxyde.
20 NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOaiCAL SURVEY.
and is never found in nature uncombined with other bodies. Al-
though it exists in many bodies as oils, and those which are termed
organic, yet water is the body in which it most abounds — not that
its proportion is greatest in water, but the general diffusion of wa-
ter over the globe and in most bodies, makes it the great source of
§ 14. ISTiTKOGEN, is another aeriform body, neutral and of little
power ; it would seem almost destitute of affinty, for other bodies,
if we judge of its perperties as it exists in the atmosphere. Indeed,
though it has feeble affiinities, it is for that reason, an element of
one of the most powerfully corrosive bodies known. Nitric acid
for example is only oxygen and nitrogen, but who ventures to
taste it the second time, notwithstanding we inhale the elements of
nitric acid at every breath. What substance is more singular than
ammonia, or harthorn, which is only nitrogen and hydrogen
chemically combined. It will be seen in the sequel that nitrogen
performs important functions in the soil.
§ 15. Carbon, is a solid. We feel relieved when a solid pres-
ents itself, something to be seen and handled. It is pure in the
diamond ; nearly so in anthracite coal, and in the purest charcoal.
It has only a feeble disposition to combine with other bodies. Heat
materially puts its particles in a combining state. It forms with
oxygen, carbonic acid, an aeriform body sufficiently heavy to be
poured from a tumbler. If poured upon flame it extinguishes it,
showing that though one of its elements is a combustible and the
other a supporter of it, that it is itself an extinguisher when applied
to burning bodies, and hence has been and may be used to extin-
guish lires — when inhaled, it acts as poison to the system ; and yet
in all organic bodies it is a basis of support.
§ 17. The four preceding elements are often called by way of
distinction, the organic elements of bodies ; because all bodies
which are organized are composed mainly of them. The following
examples will show more clearly than any other statement, the
fact alluded to. For example, hay, in 1,000 pounds, is composed
TfOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL 8UETEY. 21
in which is found 90 pounc's of inorganic matter called ash, the
product of combustion. Potatoes is composed of:
Nitrogen, 15, Ash 40 lbs.
Oats is composed of:
Hydrogen, — 64
Nitrogen, 22, Ash40 lbs.
Wheat is composed of:
■ The constituents of animal bodies are quite different, though the
same elements are usually found. Thus in lean beef blood, white
of eggs, there is found:
Carbon, , 55 per cent.
The propriety, therefore, of calling these four elements or-
ganic is not improper; it is true, however, that inorganic mat-
ter is always present. It seems to be necessary wherewith to
form a species of skeleton, especially in such bodies as hay, oats,
and wheat. In animal bodies, as hair and wool, sulphur is an im-
portant element, as well as phosphorus. In the solid structures,
as bone, phosphorus, an element of the mineral kingdom, is
always present in the largest proportion.
All good soils have their organic parts. When, therefore, the
organic constituent of a soil is referred to, we are necessarily re-
22 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
minded of the fact that it consists of these four elements, carbon,
oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, or that it may be resolved into
It is not to be concealed, however, that there are numerous
bodies belonging to the organic kingdoms in which nitrogen is
absent, as starch, gnm, sugar, and the essential oils.
§ 18. Sulphur is a M'ell known substance, of a yellow color,
and a faint, peculiar odor. It burns with a pale blue flame, giving
off at the same time a pungent suffocating vapor, which consists of
oxygen and sulphurin combination. One pound of sulphur will
make three pounds of sulphuric acid, or oil of vitrei. Sulphur is
present in many substances. Mustard seed contains it in a large
proportion ; it is also always present in eggs, and which in conse-
quence blackens silver; in wheat it is present, particularly in its
gluten ; also in lean meat, and in hair and wool, in which it forms
nearly one-twentieth of their weight. From its constancy in the
vegetable and animal kingdoms, it might be inferred that its appli-
cation to the soil would be attended with favorable results. It is
however, a striking example, illustrating numerous other cases,
that in a simple condition it is not at all fitted to fulfil the office of
a fertilizer, although it is not entirely insoluble in water. It may
be used, however, beneficially in its simple state for the purpose of
protecting vegetables from the attack of insects, as turnips, cab-
bages, &c. '^•
But the sulphur of organic bodies, as hair, wool, mustard seed,
is derived from salts wdiich contain it; gypsum furnishes it; and
other sulphates, as the sulphate of soda (glauber salts) sulphate of
ammonia, etc. In this fact we find an illustration of the power of
organic bodies to appropriate elements which are locked up in
chemical combinations. Nothing is created in the vegetable tissue ;
it is only possible for it to decompose and appropriate such bodies
as they require in growth, and each organ performs an indepen-
dent office, and takes only that which its constitution demands.
Thus the chaff of wheat differs in composition from the enclosed
grain ; and the hair differs in composition from the skin, upon
which it is supported.
§ 19. Phosphorus is a yellowish, waxy substance, extremely
inflammable, and even consumes at the ordinary temperature, but
does not burst into a flame except its temperature is slightly ele- -
NOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 23
vated. Friction upon a rough board sets it on fire. The common
hicifer match is a good ilhistration of the fa^t, and tlie vapor given
off in the act of combustion is composed of oxygen and phos-
It is generally diffused in the organic kingdoms ; in certain parts,
as bones, it is far more abundant than sulphur in other tissues. It
is contained in the substance of brain. Wherever a compound
word, as phosphate of lime, phosphate of soda, etc. occurs, they
will at once suggest to the mind of the farmer the combustible
substance, phosphorus, or it may be the lucifer match ; but as in
thev case of sulphur, the simple body phosphorus connot be em-
ployed directly as a fertilizer. Combinations of it must first be
formed with oxygen, and then the acid thus formed must combine
again with bodies which are called bases, as lime and potash.
These form the base with which a salt is the final result. In the
condition of a salt then, which is a body composed of an acid and
a base, both sulphur and phosphorus are brought into a condition
in which they may be employed as fertilizers. The composition of
the salt is indicated by its name. Sulphate of lime, phosphate of
lime, nitrate of lime, the latter indicating the presence oi nitrogen,
and by^going back a step, it will be understood that nitric acid is
implied, a compound of nitrogen and oxygen.
§ 20. The simple minerals from which soils are mainly derived,
are felspar, hornblende and trap mica serpentine, talc, carbonate
of lime. Their composition which has been given shows what ele-
ments they respectively furnish for the soil. Silex, which we find
in the condition of sand, is a common product even of serpentine.
But of the others we find felspar furnishes potash and soda, and one
kind of felspar furnishes lime. Serpentine and talc abounds in
magnesia, and so, also, certain kinds of limestone, particularly those
called dolomites. Hornblende furnishes lime and but a trace of
potash or soda. Hornblende is, however, generally of a dark green
color, a color which is mainly due to iron, and hence soils derived
from hornblende and trap, which is also dark colored, are generally
red, for the reason that the iron when set free from its combina-
tions, takes more oxygen and forms thereby a red peroxide of iron.
"When we find a soil derived thus from hornblende, and knowing
also the composition of the mineral, we safely infer that the soil
will contain a sufiiciency of lime. A felspar soil is often gray, but
24: NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKTET.
when iron is present in one or more of the elements of gninile, it
will charge to a red which indicates a better soil than the gray.
Granite soils are often very silicious, in which case they are coarse
and poor or meagre in consequence of the great excess of quartz in
the <>-ranite. The granite soils of ISTorth-Carolinaj however, are gene-
rally very good, or are less meagre than in many other parts of the
United States. Where felspar and mica predominate over the
quartz element in granite, the soil resembles an hornblende soil in
color, and in composition we may expect a larger per centage of
Hence we obtain approximately several important facts r^ative
to the composition of a soil when we have ascertained its origin.
It will appear also, that this information may be obtained with
greater exactitude in the Southern than in the Northern or Western
States, where the soil has been transported to a distance from its
§ 21. It has been stated that the original source of nutriment for
the vegetable and animal kingdoms may be traced back to the rocks
and mineralo ; it is still required that we also show as correctly as
possible how the seemingly insoluble debris of the globe's crust be-
comes food, or is fitted for its high and important function. The
fact itself is based on observation and experiment. For example,
the process of disintegration goes on under our eyes. We see rocks
crumbling to a coarse powder which becomes by the continuance
of atmospheric action still finer. If in any stage the composition of
the rock is determined by analysis, it is found to consist of similar
elements. But still the debris may and often does lose a portion
of the mass, by solution. Granite contains in its felspar, potash or
soda ; both substances are finally washed out by water, or are per-
fectly set free from their combinations, and become soluble matters
in the soil under other chemical states; those for example, which
are called organic salts of potash or soda. We are required to look
upon all the solid parts of the earth as in a state of change ; everj"-
particle is in motion, nothing at rest. Some compounds it is true,
are much more stable than others. Quartz for example, when un-
mixed with other bodies, appears to iis stable. But felpar and
mica are constantly undergoing change. The same maybe said of
hornblende, trap, mica, serpentine, talc, carb. of lime, etc. A double
change is in progress. 1st, the. mass is mechanically divided ; and
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 25
2d. It is changed chemieallj. A piece of felspar, hornblende, or
trap splits into thousands of particles. The surface is thereby
greatly increased. In this condition the carbonic acid of the at-
mosphere acts upon its potash. This aids greatly in breaking up
the affinities between the silex and alumine, and the consequence
is that in the masses the silex chrystalizes out; the bond that
united all the elements of felspar and formed an homogeneous
mass is broken. In the original compound as felspar, the mineral
was a silicate of alumine and potash, soda or lime, but carbonic
acid having combined with one of the alkalies and formed a car-
bonate instead of a silicate, both the silex and alumina are set free,
and the particles of silex will come together, and those of the
alumine also. In the first mineral we perceive the grains of
quartz or flint, and in the latter the pure clay. Molecular force, as
it is called, brings together like particles. Under the operation of
these molecular forces, felspar will not be reformed, though all the
elements are present at one time ; but in process of time all the
carbonate of potash is dissolved out. An ultimate result which is
quite obvious from inspection of beds of decomposing granite is
the finding of a pure white bed of clay, called porcelain clay, inr
terraixed with fragments of quartz, together with nodules of flint,,
as they would be called, and which are often hollow and their in-
terior lined with fine crystals of quartz. The nodules are derived
from the silex of the felspar, which was in combination with the
alumine and potash. In this condition we see a perfect change o>f
state. Analogous changes are in progress all the time.
§ 22. From the foregoing it may be seen that lime, potash, soda>
silex, etc., are originally rock constituents, which by a process of
decay become parts of the soil, and thereby accessible to the roots
of plants. So also sulphur and phosphorus belong to the common
compounds of the earth's crust. The first is extremely abundant
in a class of bodies called sulphates or sulphides ^ combinations of
metals with sulphur, as sulphuret of iron, so generally difi'used in
nature. It is known to be present by heating the body, when the
peculiar bluish flame appears, accompanied with the suffocating
odor of sulphur. Phosphorus, though less common, is probably
always diffused through granite, but it is known to be more con-
stant and more abundant in that class of rocks, called trajp^ in
which also potash and other alkalies are constituents. Hence, aa
26 NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
trap, M'hen it decomposes, furnishes an aluminous basis for a soil,
and is at the same time impregnated with sulphur, phosphorus,
and the alkalies, their soils are eminently adapted to the wheat
crop. The gluten of wheat requires sulphur and phospliorus, as
well as potash in certain combinations.
Tlie organic constituents of the soil exist also as mineral bodies
in the soils, and also rocks ; oxygen in combination with all the
elements of soil, hydrogen in water, and nitrogen in tlie nitrates,
and the atmosphere diffused in the soil, where it is an active body,
ever ready to form ammonia with hydrogen when water is de-
• § 23. A substance which is not simple requires in this place a
further notice, because its office is an important one in the vegeta-
ble economy ; it is carbonic acid. The atmosphere is regarded as
its source. It is, however, generated in the soil. Its solvent prop-
erties are among its most important properties. It is, notwith-
standing, a feeble acid, and a feeble solvent, water charged with it
dissolves rocks, and the indispensable com-ponnd, phosjyhaie of lime,
is dissolved by it, and being thereby brought into a soluble state
by water, it becomes accessible to the roots of plants when diffused
in this menstruum. In the atmosphere it forms only one two-
thousandth part. It is maintained that leaves absorb it from the
atmosphere, and obtain thereby the carbon required to build struc-
tures. StilJ, water in the soil holds it in solution, and from this
source it is furnished in a direct way to the vegetable. It is also
furnished to growing plants by peat, and the changes which or-
ganic matter undergoes in the soil; there is, therefore, an aerial
source from which the leaves or upper structures of plants obtain
it, and a sub-aerial source from whence the vegetable gets it by
the roots. The latter are the channels by which the former may
feed it to his growing crop. The organic part of the plant, that
in which carbon is so abundant, is that which is consumed in com-
bustion. The products are all volatile, and hence, are dissipated.
It is by far the heaviest and most bulk}'- part of the vegetable.
That which is left after combustion is the inorganic part, and .con-
sists of lime, silejs, potash, raajgnesia, soda, iron, etc..
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 27
The organic part of a soil and variety of names under which it is known, changes
which it undergoes, and the formation of new bodies by the absorption of oxy-
gen. Fertilizers in North-Carolina. Green crops. Mutual action of the ele-
ment5 of soils upon each other. Composition of one or two of the chemical
products of soils showing the source of carbon in the plant
§ 24:. The organic part of a soil consist apparently of carbona-
ceous matter, and taken as a whole, it is the brown or blackish part,
and which is consumed when ignited. Its appearance, indeed, is
due to a species of combustion which is carried just far enougli to
char the vegetable matter. In warm climates it is nearly all con-
sumed, while in cold it constantly accumulates, and forms at the
surface a coat of blackish mould. The term organic applies to this
part of the soil. On the mountains of this State it is often more
than a foot thick. In the swamps of the eastern counties it is often
ten feet thick, while in the midland counties it is only sufficient to
give a brown stain to the surface. It does not seem to accumulate
in consequence of a slow combustion, or as it may be termed decay
which takes place.
In common language, the organic part is known under a variety
of names, as humus ^ mouldy vegetable mould. It is, however, a
complex substance, and is constantly undergoing changes which
promote vegetation. Chemists have obtained several distinct sub-
stances from it. It is really a mixture of organic and inorganic
bodies. A portion of the organic matter is free, that is, it is un-
combined with the inorganic part. Other parts are in combination
with lime, magnesia, iron, potash, soda, &c. The latter are soluble,
and also fertilizing matters, and play an important part in vegeta-
tion. The cause of this intermixture of organic and inorganic mat-
ter is to be traced to its origin. Thus, organic matter being the
debris of the vegetables which had grown upon the soil, it must
necessarily contain also the inorganic part which belonged to the
living vegetables. From this fact it may be inferred that this mat-
ter is, in the proper proportions, to be employed by any subsequent
§ 25. Yegetable Matter after death passes through a series of
chemical changes, which gives origin to the numerous compounds
28 KOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
found in organic matter. These changes are due mainly to the
absorption of oxygen. The first substance formed from
woody fibre after the death of the plant, is uhnic acid. Another
portion of oxygen changes nlmic acid into humio acid i and the
last is changed into geic acid; on a farther oxydatiou it passes into
crenic acid ; and finally by the same process into apoct'enic acid.
In an old soil, all these bodies exist simultaneously. The most im-
portant, or those which are immediately active, are the three last,
geic acid, crenic and apocrenic acid. All the foregoing bodies are
the products of the decay of plants, when exposed in the soil to
air and moisture. They cannot be distinguished by sight, and the
whole mass is simply a homogeneous brown substance. But it is
i^'ichly charged with the elements of fertility.
We may omit the details respecting the chemical constitution of
these bodies. It will be sufficient to state in this place, that they
are feeble acids ; and yet possess considerable affinity for inorganic
matter, lime, magnesia, ammonia, potash, soda, iron, etc.; so much
80 as to combine and form with them salts^ which are at once in
the proper state to be received as nutriment into the tissue of,
growing vegetables. This organic matter, however, is remarkable
for its affinity for ammonia ; the result, therefore, is that this im-
portant substance may be detected in vegetable mould, though it
may be chemically nncombined with the foregoing acids ; it may
be present as a mixture, yet being present, it will be disposed and
ready to combine with the crenic and apocrenic acids, in both of
which nitrogen may be always detected. Organic salts, formed by
the union of organic acids, with lime, magnesia, potash, ammonia,
etc , are the proper food for plants ; and hence, it will be a maxim
with the farmer to take such measures as the nature of those sub-
stances require to increase it upon all occasions which occur. The
greater the amount of these salts in his soil, the greater his crops.
§ 26. From the foregoing statements we may deduce the follow-
ing principle, that there is a mutual action of the organic and inor-
ganic parts of the soil upon each other, and that to this action fer-
tility is, in a great measure, due.
In order that these mutual actions may be better understood, we
proceed farther and state, that those substances which are called
silicates, have but a slight if any tendency to act upon each other.
They are, however, gradually decomposed by carbonic acid, the
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGtOAL SURVEY. 20
effect of which is to form with the base of the silicate a carbonate.
Thus in the case of granite and similar compounds, the felspar and
mica which are silicates, are slowlj decomposed, and the alkali, as
potash, or alkaline earths, as lime and magnesia, or even iron and
manganese of the rock, lose their silica, or are disengaged there-
from ; and the carbonic acid combines with them. These being
soluble compounds, are liable to be washed out and carried to the
sea, while the insoluble silicate of alumina, or its pure form, remains
behind. The consequence of this is, that the soil is relatively richer
in clay than before, and the longer the chemical changes are going
on, the larger the quantity of clay in the soil ; and it is agreeable
to experience that soils become stiffer by cultivation. By this pro-
cess they become less adapted in the course of time to certain crops
in consequence of this change of constitution. Large districts
which once grew the peach luxuriantly, seem to have lost in part the
power or abilit}'-, or, at any rate, the peach tree does not thrive so
well in the oldest districts of New York and New England, as it
did in the early period of their settlement. It is not possible prob-
ably to be satisfied fully with respect to the cause why the peach
is cultivated with difficulty, but the fact that the soil by cultivation
becomes more close and compact, may be remotely connected with
the change we have stated. It has been attributed to a change of
climate, but it is not true that the climate has changed, and hence
we are disposed to refer the change in question to a change in the
§ 27. In North-Carolina the natural supply of fertilizers exists in
the marls of the lower counties, together with the organic matter
of the swamps and bogs. The two exist often in juxtaposition.
Experience has proved that marl applied to exhausted lands is often
injurious. Now this exhaustion extends to the organic matter,
though it also exists in its inorganic also. But experience further
proves, that however large a quantity ot the latter is applied, little
benefit is secured so long as the first deficiency exists. We may
see the reason why no organic salts can be formed in the absence
of organic matter. The inorganic matter cannot find the proper
elements with which to combine, and which the constitution of the
vegetable requires. The practical inference is, that marls should
be composted with organic matter, as leaves, straw, and weeds,
which are free from seeds, or anything which has lived. Or, an-
30 NOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL 8UKVET.
other plan may be pursued — supply the organic matter from a
green crop, as a crop of peas, ploughed in. In certain parts of the
State, clover or buck-wheat may be resorted to. The gain arising
from the latter practice, arises from the ability of these crops to
take from the atmosphere the organic elements, and deliver them
to the soil, a process over which the planter or farmer has no con-
trol, except the institution of means. Under many circumstances,
the organic matter may be supplied more cheaply by sowing seed
than by composting.
The importance of organic matter in soils has been sustained by
the experience of ages ; but there was a time when this point was
denied by the ablest Chemists of the age. It was maintained, that
the ash or the inorganic part gave to the soil all that was impor-
tant, and hence certain practices were recommended which were
in accordance with this theory, such as burning manures, burning
turf and the like. Happily, this question has been set at rest, and
the best Chemists admit those views which the experience of ages
has confirmed independently of chemistry.
§ 28. But the point which bears more immediately upon the
principle respecting mutual actions, comes in play subsequently to
the decomposition of the silicates ; which, so far as inorganic mat-
ter is concerned, are inert ; but the lime and alkalies once freed
from their original combinations with silica, becomes fitted to act
at once upon organic matter, and form with it salts. This decom-
position may take place where no organic matter exists by the
carbonic acid of the atmosphere, but it happens that organic com-
pounds furnish also carbonic acid to the soil ; for it is displaced
when carbonate of lime or potash is acted upon by an organic salt.
Crenic acid, acting upon carbonate of lime, sets free the carbonic
acid, and this, in its turn, acts upon the silicates to decompose them,
and thereby sets the alkalies and alkaline earth also free. There is
then a double mutual action, as it were, constantly going on in the
soil, by which nutriment is furnished to the crop. Some physiolo-
gists maintain that the jpresence of a living Ijocly^ as the root of a
growing plant, effects decomposition similar to the action of sul-
phuric acid in converting starch into sugar. However this may
be w^e are inclined to beheve that the root has power to act and
effect changes upon the elements of soil which are unknown in the
laboratory of the chemist ; and many substances which are insolu-
NOETH-CAEOLINA (GEOLOGICAL SUKVEY. 81
ble by chemical agencies, become soluble by the action of the roots
§ 29. The foregoing facts and principle do not change at all the
action of the farmer ; they go to sustain his practice in providing
fertilizers by means of composts, formed by mixing the organic
and inorganic bodies together, and for the purpose of giving them
time and opportunity to effect those chemical changes, of which
we have spoken. These never fail, while fertilizers in other states
do. The foregoing are some of the chemical changes which take
place in the soil, and which are mostly due to the presence of
organic matter. All the facts go to prove the importance of
organic matter, and the necessity, therefore, to supply it when
from any cause it is wanting or deficient in quantity.
§ 30. In addition to the lime and other mineral bodies which
the organic salts furnish to plants, it is plain that carbon is also one
of the elements supplied. To make this plain we annex the com-
position of one or two of these organic bodies. Humate of am-
monia consists of:
Humate of ammonia, it will be perceived, contains more than_
half its weight of carbon, which may be taken up in the circulating
Bnmic acid is composed of :
It will follow, from the foregoing, that carbon, which forms the
largest pai-t of a vegetable, is not derived entirely from the atmos-
phere. The soil, through the medium of the roots of the j)lant,
famishes at least a part of this essential element. In certain plants,
as wheat, rye and oats, it is very possible that all the carbon is
derived from the soil ; while in beans, clover, lucerne, etc., a large
proportion may be derived from the atmosphere.
32 NOBTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
The mechanical condition of soils diflfer. Circulation of water in the soil with its
saline matter. Capability of bearing drouth. How to escape from the effects
of drouth. Temperature of soils. Influenced by color. Weight of soils, etc.
§ 31. The mechanical or physical conditions of soils differ accord-
ing to their composition, and these physical differences must not
be disregarded. It is well known that a clay soil contains imder
ordinary circumstances, more water than a mixture of clay and
sand, and much more than sand alone. This fact may or may not
become a serious injury to growing crops. It will depend upon
the season. If it is very wet serious injury may be expected, or if
it is very dry the crop will suffer, but not in the same way. All
surfaces, whether composed of clay or sand, become dry by the
evaporation of water, and the evaporation not only effects tlie sur-
face but extends to a great depth ; water seems to rise up to the
surface from beneath to supply the waste. In confirmation of this
view it is not uncommon to find a saline matter upon the surface
in dry weather, which has been in solution in the water brought to
the surface by this process. In many places in Wake county, N^.
C, the naked soil in ditches is covered with an incrustation of sul-
phates or iron and alumine, an astringent salt injurious to vegeta-
tion. This incrustion is formed only when there is a di-outh ; if is
a gradual process. In countries where a whole season is dry, the
soil becomes whitened with salts. Rains dissolve them and they
sink again into the soil, though a portion will be carried away by
water. An effect of a drouth upon a clay soil is to cause a shrink-
age of the mass. It will then become still more difficult for roots
to penetrate it, and hence, when drouth occurs early in the season,
the crop is starved for want of nutriment, the roots cannot spread
through an impervious mass. But sand simply dries without di-
minishing its bulk, but this process takes place with greater rapidity
than upon clay soils, the latter being close and more retentive of
moisture than the former.
§ 32. The rise of water to the surface from beneath, is familiarly
illustrated by the putting of water into the saucer of a flower pot;
its rise to the surface is well known. Flower pots are watered with
NOKTH-CABOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVEY. BB
dommon rain water or charged with fertih'zing matter which is con-
veyed to the roots. In long continued drouths when the water
rises from a depth of 4 or 5 feet, instead of carrying up matter com-
patible with the nature of the plant, the astringent salts take their
place, injurious effects to vegetation take place in addition to those
vliich arise directly from the want of rain. These injurious salts
are easily corrected by the use of lime or marl. When they reach
the neighborhood of the roots if lime is present, it will decompose
the salts and form gypsum. Fruit trees which send their roots
deeply into the soil are often injured by the presence of these salts.
From the foregoing facts it is evident that the subsoil should be
examined for poisonous salts, and when the ditches or deep layers are
exposed in cuttings for roads, and should become partially incrusted
with astringent salts, it will be important to institute means for
correcting this condition of the deep subsoil.
§ 33. The foregoing remarks apply to those varieties which are
purely clay or sand. Composition may modify results materially;
if for example a soil whose composition retains a preponderance of
clay and yet has a due admixture of organic matter and lime, its
ability to stand a drouth is greatly increased — for organic matter
and lime not only retain moisture stronglj'-, but they affect the tex-
ture favorably, and counteract the tendency to excess in shrinkage.
§ 34r. As drouths in North-Carolina are much more injurious than
excess of rain, it becomes a question of importance to know how
to guard against their effects. The first point to be attended to, is to
drain deeply. This will affect gradually the texture of the clay;
it will become more porous, while its natural affinity for water will
not be diminished ; that is, it will be sufficiently retentive while
the excess of water will be drained off. Clay may be regarded as
requiring a specific amount of Avater; but at the same time its ca-
pacity for receiving and iiolding a greater quantity than this, is
proved by experience. Another change maybe affected by the
free use of organic matter, which, when mixed with the soil, makes
it porous. In the cultivation of not only clay soils, but sandy ones,
crops should be planted as early as possible, that the surface ma}'"
be protected by the shade of the growing crop. To be able to
plant early, in clay soils especially, the water must be disposed of
b}^ drainage. Two weeks may be saved in many cases by drain-
age ; that is, the land will admit of the plough two weeks earlier
34 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
in drained, than in undrained lands. Give a crop of corn two
weeks more of growtli than another piece eqnall}'^ well prepared,
and the former will live through an ordinary drouth without in-
jury, while the latter will not become half a crop.
§ 35. Absorption of moistui-e from the air takes place principally
during the night, and unabsorbative power is less in sandy than
clayey soils. This respite from heat, which causes so much evapo-
ration during the day is of the highest importance. Even when
dew does not fall, soils take a small quantity of water from the at-
mosphere. A stifi' clay, it is said, sometimes absorbs one-thirtieth
part of its own weight. .Dry peat will also absorb nearly as much,
but its power depends upon its condition; if very tine it absorbs
more than clay; if coarse, less. The best condition of a soil is with-
out doubt a mixture of clay and organic matter, where it is neces-
sary to guard against droughts.
§ 36. The surface temperature of soils differ accoi'ding to their
composition. Water in all soils favors a low temperature because
the evaporation carries oiF heat in the invisible vapor which rises
from the surface. So long as an active evaporation goes on the
surface continues cold, lience in swamps and bogs where the sup-
ply is inexhaustible, very slight changes only occur during the
summer. When the surface becomes drj'- it begins to rise, and if
the air is only 60° or 70° in the shade, the soil will absorb and accu-
mulate heat and may rise to 90° or 100°.
Color has much effect upon temperature. The darker the color,
all things being equal, the greater is the absorbative power. The
correctness of the common opinion with respect to the natural cold-
ness of light colored clay soils is correct.
§ 37. It is stated by good authority that the amount of evapora-
tion from an acre of fresh ploughed land is equal to nine hundred
and fifty pounds per hour for the first and second days after plowing.
The rapid evaporation diminishes every day. Evaporation begins
again by hoeing, but the moist surface thus exposed has other func-
tions besides the evaporative one. Moist surfaces are mucli better
absorbents of ammonia from the atmosphere than dry ones, and one of
the most important effects of stirring the soil often, arises from its in-
crease in absorbative power. Water in the soil is disposed of by
forest leaves or by the vegetable kingdom. A single tree 8^ inclies in
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 35
di'imeter and 30 feet high expired from leaves in 12 hours 333,072
grains of water.
§ 38. An acre of woodland evaporates 31,000 pounds in 12 hours.
During the summer, embracing 92 days, the whole amount of
evaporation will amount to 2,852,000 pounds. Forests and vege-
tation generally lai-gely aid the disposal of excessive water in the
spring. Water of course accumulates in the soil during winter.
Our wells receive their supply and springs have their sources of
It is true, however, that the removal of forests presents a seem-
ing anomaly, for w^here large tracts of country are shorn of their
trees and forests, there the head-waters of our rivers fail or dimin-
ish. Evaporation is greatest from a shorn surface, and a country
is on the road to ruin when its woodlands are mostly destroyed or
consigned to the axe.
But woodlands require a change. Rotation is as necessary to
the forest as to the successive crops of the farmer. We see tliis
in the death of pines over large areas of this State. The idea that
death was caused wholly by insects is fallacious. In it we see, in
part at least, a natural etfort to change the kind of vegetation.
Oaks and hickory replace the pines. For hundreds of years pines
had been the staple products of large tracts in this State. Is it
therefore remarkable that a light soil containing the true pabu-
lum of life for the pine, should have been nearly exhausted and
the pine should have thereby become weakened and more liable
to disease than formerly ?
§ 39. The absolute weight of different soils is also variable. A
cubic foot of clay, with its moisture, weighs about 115 pounds.
The same quantity of damp sand 141 ; while peat, with its water,
weighs only about 81 pounds. The weight of soils affects the labor
of tillage. More foi'ce is required to lift a sandy soil than a clay.
But the texture or compactness of an undrained clay soil more
than makes up for its less weight.
In every point of view the farmer is encouraged to ameliorate
the mechanical condition of his plantation. The first point requir-
ing attention is its water or drainage, for when a soil is water soaked,
good crops are only to be made in the most favorable season.
A subsoil of clay beneath sand is ameliorated by draining, though
the top may appear to be sufficiently dry ; for the clay may be
36 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
regarded as a reservoir of water, just as the filled saucer beneath
the flower pot.
§ 40. We may recognise in all these facts two currents which
may be found in soils ; a downward current, which disposes of
surface water, and an upward current, when the surface water has
become exhausted. This arrangement is a wise one, for if there
were no upward currents plants would perish, both for want of nu-
triment and water during drouths. This result would be far more
likely to happen in the case of the cereals and cultivated crops,
than in the plants which grow naturally in the soil.
Mechanical treatment of soils. Deep plowing. Advantages of draining. Opeti
drains. Plowing. Objects attained by plowing. Harrowing. Roller. Im-
provement of soils by mixture. Hoeing. Effects of hoeing.
§ 41. No doubt the proper mechanical treatment of soils is the
most important part of husbandry and farming. By mechanical
treatment we mean plowing, hoeing, harrowing, etc. If contrasted
with the ciiemical tieatment or with the use ot manures, it will be
evident that unless the mechanical treatment is right, much of the
labor and expense of manuring will be lost. Probably there is no
part of farming which is executed so poorly in North-Carolina as
the mechanical treatment of soils. It fails to be effective for want
of depth. It is true, we believe, that climate should be considered
when the question of deep plowing is to be answered. Tiiat regard
should be had to climate will appear from what has been said in
the foregoing chapter with respect to the evaporation from freshly
plowed surfaces. Under the more powerful influence of the sun's
rays in the Southern States, the question may be raised whether
the plowing which in New- York is called deep ■plowing^ from 12 to
14 inches deep, might not result in two great a loss of water. But
whether this question is answered in the affirmative or not, it will
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURYEY. 37
be found true that deeper plowing than is usually practiced will be
attended witli greater success.
Pi'eparatory to plowing stands draining j not always, but fre-
quently. An important questio)i to be answered is whetlier any
given tract requires this preliminary treatment. Observation may
readily return the reply. If water stands upon the surtace only a
few hours after a rain, it is probable draining will benefit the tract
where it stands. If a bed of clay lies near the surface it is called
for even if the top is sand. All swamps and bogs of course require
it. In all the eastern counties there is a continuous bed of imper-
vious brick clay, which often is not less than one foot from the
surface, and its materials are often blended with the sand where it
lies deper. This yellowish white clay will frequently be found
cropping out in ravines where its position may be determined, and
having determined its position, it will aid in solving the question
of drainage. This bed of clay varies from four to seven feet
thick, and is overlaid, and also underlaid with sand. These sand
beds vary in thickness, and are always above the marls, unless we
reckon among marls the recent shell bed of the coast. In drain-
age it is unnecessary to cut through the brick clay; it is sufficient
to cut deeply into it, though the drainage will be more perfect if
it is cut through. Another indication of the necessity of special
drainage is furnished where springs issue near the surface. Tliese
are always thrown out by an impervious stratum. This impervious
stratum may be sought for in ravines, or by boring with an auger
of a suitable length ; its depth beneath the surface may thereby
§ 42. Sandy clays which are sufficiently cohesive to be formed
into balls by the hand when moistened, will require drainage. In
drainage we not only have regard to surfa<3e water, to draw that
off, but we must cut inio the impervious stratum sufficiently deep
to take out the water confined in its upper layers or beds. Other-
wise the soil will rest on a bed always saturated with water, and
always giving it off from the surface in vapor, and hence, will
maintain a surface too cool for the growth of cotton or corn.
Another fact should be thought of and considered. Old soils
become more compact and clayey by cultivation ,' and though in
its new state crops were sure and certain, yet, in process of time,
a change takes place. The greatest change is in the subsoil, which
38 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURViCY.
becomes partially consolidated by the infiltration of the oxide of
iron and carbonate of lime. Free percolation is stopped, and this
partially indurated stratum should be cut through to restore a free
passage of water. Breaking it up with a subsoil plow is not suf-
ficient with many persons; this pan, as it is called, must not be^
cut. Experience, however, justifies it, and no harm ever follows
fj-om the practice.
§ 43. Drainage has been spoken of and recommended in the
preceding chapter, but one or two advantages should be more dis-
tinctly stated. It is the openness which follows, and by which air
penetrates freely the strata. The advantages, or it should be said
the necessity for oxygen in the soil, is absolute, especially where
orotmic matter exists, for we have shown that oxygen must change
the vegetable fibre into humates, geates, and crenic and apocrenio
acids, etc. All these changes are accompanied with the disengage-
.ment too of carbonic acid. If the vegetable fibre is confined in
wet soils, it is converted into a peat only, in which state it is not
fitted for vegetable assimilation. But in soils air must circulate;
and when it is too close and compact, circulation can be effected
only by drainage.
From the foregoing, it is plain drainage effects two objects :
§ 44. 1- It raises the temperature of the soil b}^ sending the
water in subterranean channels to distant parts. 2, It opens the
texture of soil and permits the free passage of atmospheric air.
Both the mechanical and chemical wants of vegetation are provi-
ded for by drainage. Among the advantages of draining one has
already been fully stated ; but still, let it not be forgotten that by
it seed time comes earlier, where soil is drained, and it may and will
happen that to an earlier planting a good crop is mainly due. A
result of this kind, together with a larger crop for one or two sea-
sons, will more than pay the expenditure incurred in the operation.
But when a general system of drainage for the country has been
carried out, the general health of all its citizens will be secured.
Stagnant pools will not exist; the water of wells will be improved
and the climate will be measurably changed. Nothing can be
Inore important than the sanitary effects of good drainage. The
great source of intermittent fever is in stagnant waters. It is true
we cannot prevent the freshets which give origin to miasmata, but
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 39
even hero, drainage wall have a sahitary influence by canying off
at an earlier day the surphis waters.
The volume of this water is replaced by air. Hence it is plain
that a very important change must necessarily take place. "While
soa'ced with water, which contains but little air, no chemical
changes take place which produce fertilizing matter. The changes
are preparatory only, but the peaty matter or peat itself, will re-
main peat, or become real coal forever. But draw off the water
and replace it by atmospheric air w^ith its active principle, oxygen^
and a new order of things begins.
§ 45. Drainage is not neglected in North-Carolina, but its sys-
tem is defective. Open drains are usually made; they effect the
object less perfectly than tile drainimg when properly laid down.
The former are obstructed b}" the growth of weeds, and the banks
are in part closed to the free exit of water. They are also incon-
venient, and hence, it is to be hoped, the time is not far distant
when tile wnlf be used. These remarks, however, are applicable
to the uplands, the swamps must be drained by open ditches and
§ 4:6. The operation next in importance to drainage \% 'plowing.
By the plow tlie surface is designed to be pulverized, should be
pulverized, or else the operation is badly performed. The condi-
tion of the surface must be right, or else it will be impef feet, how-
ever skilful the holder of the plow may be. If wet, it should not
be undertaken. This is a settled and well known point, but it is
not always observed, for a large amount of pressing w^ork in the
spring may in one sense compel a farmer to plow before the soil is
dried. Plowing is an old custom, and the experience of the world
says that nations have prospered and communities prospered in the
direct ratio that this operation approaches perfection. We throw
out of mind all that is done in a new soil full of roots and stumps.
Great crops of corn have been raised where the plow could not
run. But every old country where roots, stumps and briars have
been disposed of and the soil has found its level, there the plow
must run. The importance of plowing is felt everywhere, is shown
by the inventions of mechanics and farmers to perfect the machine
and make an instrument which is adapted to all surfaces and depths
to which the machine may be driven by cattle and the hand of
man. The evil arising from plowing wet land is the lumpy condi-
>M) NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
tion of the furrow mass, and as these dry they become really indu-
rated in the sun, and the consequence frequently is, that such a
condition of the soil remains for one or two years.
Another important principle differing in kind from the foregoing
is, that furrows should not run down hill ; they should encircle the
knowl or hill-side in order to divert streams from a direct descent,
and thereby cut a side-hill ditch and finally lead to the formation
of unseemly gullies. These, however, are not only unseemly, but
monstrous evils, and especial care needs be taken in working the
soils overlying the free-stones of this State. The first thing to be
effected in plowing is good pulverization, the next is to open the
soil to a sufficient depth for the roots to spread themselves, and an
indirect benefit is secured when these two ends are accomplished,
that of helping a crop through a drought without inj^uy. The
reader will understand the mode in which this comes to pass by
applying the principles already stated.
Washing and the formation of gullies is also prevented in part
by deep plowing. The subsoil plow is called into requisition to
deepen furrows, but not to bring the broken substance to the sur-
face. By deep ploMnng, especially if aided by the subsoil plow,
the soil will absorb double the quantity of rain, and hence, di-
minish the amount which would otherwise escape in streams over
the surface, and thereby carry off good soil, and tend to the for-
mation of gullies.
Pulverization, an open, porous condition for roots to penetrate,
depth for absorption of rain, together with a perfect mixture of the
matters of the soil and fertilizers, are objects to be attained by
plowing. These are all to be kept in view.
§ 47. The harrow and bush become necessary to break the lumps
and form an even surface for the reception of seed.
The whole operation of seeding and providing for the germina-
tion of seed is completed by a heavy roller. This acts super-
ficially, but fewer seed are lost by its employment, especially small
seeds. Let a person step upon a celery bed and he will find that
double the number of plants come up where the soil is pressed,
than where its surface remains loose. It is to be regretted that
the roller is not more frequently employed. It crushes clods which
have escaped the harrow, and makes withal an even surface.
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOaiCAL SURVEY. '^
§ 48, The mechanical condition of a soil can rarely be amelio-
rated by mixture. Those which really require mixture are stiff
clays and loose sands. If a mixture can be effected by the plow, it
will no doubt pay. But it becomes quite questionable, whether a
farmer can haul sand to mix with the clay, or clay to mix with the
sand. The cost of hauling is too great. A gardner may make the
necessary mixture. At any rate, before a farmer attempts to
change a field of ten acres by mixing clay with sand, or the re-
verse, he had better count the cost beforehand. Now although a
barren sand will not probably be benefitted by draining, yet the
texture of the stiffest clays will be ; and as clays are mixtures of
silex and alumine, and as they are often, if not generally supplied
with the alkalies and alkaline earths, the most direct as well as the
cheapest mode to cure a clay of its stiffness, will be to remove the
water by under drainage.
As it regards sand, it will be cheaper to employ calcareous fer-
tilizers with forms of muck than to mix with it clay.
The theory of amendment by mixture is perfectly satisfactory;
but in practice, it will be found a losing business, where either
material has to be carted many rods.
§ 49. To recur once more to the subsoil plow in connexion with
the clays too stiff to cultivate ; it has been stated, that the subsoil
plow should not be used until the land has been well drained.
When considerable moisture exists in the clay, it unites and be-
comes solid and impervious, so that little benefit has been expe-
rienced in certain cases from subsoiling ; but when the water has
been drained off and the clays have become loose and porous, the
masses raised by the plow still remain in this condition, or become
still more porous, so that the beneficial effects of subsoiling a stiff
under clay will not be secured till after the land has been well
§ 50. It is scarcely necessary to speak of hoeing or the use of the
cultivator. They are needful operations and no one omits them ;
but why lioe? is it simply to kill weeds? Hoeing kills weeds and
pulverizes the soil, but it has an effect which is unseen except from
its effects which are liable to be misinterpreted. The good efiects
of hoeing arise from the moist surface created, and which absorbs
ammonia. That the beneficial effects do not all arise from the de-
struction of weeds and pulverization is evident from the fact that
42 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
the more frequently the surface is stirred and a moist surface ex-
posed, the more vigorous the growth of the crop. The properties
of ammonia remove all doubts respecting the effects of hoeing. Let
the vapor of hartshorn in a receiver or tumbler be placed over a ves-
sel of quicksilver, and then inti'oduce a mass of moist soil, and see
with how much rapidity the whole of the ammonia will be absorbed
by the moist soil. Ammonia always exists in the atmosphere, and
it is obtained in dry weather by exposing a fresh surface of soil to
the atmosphere. Hoeing is a cheaper way of obtaining ammonia
than buying it in guano; we get it in dry weather, and it is agree-
able to the experience of all good observers, that hoeing in dry
weather is followed with greater benefits than il the weather is wet.
Gardens are hoed more frequently than field crops, though it may
be supposed that the vigorous growth in the former is due to a rich
soil. Still, the good efi'eets of hoeing are too demonstrable to the
eye to admit of doubt. Hoeing, however, is }aboriG.us, and too-
much time is consumed to admit of its repetition in field crops.
To supply the place of the hoe the cultivator ce^mes in, and no-
doubt its more frequent employment in dry weather, not simply tc>
kill weeds and break sods, but to create a moist surface which will
absorb ammonia, and which is now known to be so needful to all
crops. Dry surface has little or no absorbative power as may be
shown by introducing a ball of dry earth inta a tumbler, or receiver
of hartshorn in vapor.
Soil elements preserve the proportions very nearly as they exist in the parent
rock. Weight of different kinds of soils. Most important elements of soil rep-
resented by fractions. Effects of small doses of fertilizer explained. Nature
deals out her nutriment in atom doses^ and so does the successful florist.
§ 51. It is well established by experiment and- observation, that
the soil contains, in its ordinary state, all the elements the vegeta-
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVET. 43
ble kini;dom needs. It is also known that all may be, and are
probably derived from the solid rocks of the globe; and hence it
will follow that the composition of the soil will not diifer materially
from the parent rock from which it is derived; and what is partic-
ularly worthy of note is, that the proportions of the elements will
be found in the soil as they exist in the rock; and that where an
element or compound is in excess in the rock, so it will be found in
the soil, and where the proportion is small in the rock so it will
necessarily be small in the soil. We propose in this chapter to
state the quantities of elements in soils, and it will appear that
though many important substances are extremely minute when put
in a table of the common form used in chemical analysis ; yet, if
calculated therefrom in absolute quantities per acre, they are very
We have given the weight of cubic feet of sandy, clayey and
peaty soils ; these data will give the weight of a layer of soil of the
area of an acre and one foot deep. A granite soil with its usual
state of moisture weighs about 90 lbs to the square foot, and the
superficial square feet of an acre weighs 3,920,,000 pounds. If
granite is composed of two-fifths quartz, two-fifths felspar and one-
fifth mica, its composition will be represented by the following i
Oxide of iron, 1.93;
Oxide of manganese, ... . .12
It will be seen that in this and all other analyses of rocks and
soils, that silex and alumina constitute by far the largest parts,
while those elements which seem the most important to the veget-
able occur, or are represented by fractions^ and generally the frac-
tions are much less than in the case seleeteiJ. The potash given is the
potash of the rock, and thus never occurs in the soil, and the frac-
tion which should represent the potash of a granite soil will not ex-
ceed one-half of one per cent, in consequence of its solubility. But
if it equals the lime, .S'T, the amount of potash in one hundred
pounds of soil will be three-eighths of a pound. If the per centage
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVET.
amounts to one-half of one per cent., there will be over twenty-
tons of the substance in the mass of soil, one foot thick and within
the area of an acre. The small per centages, therefore, in an
analysis, when calculated for a field, become large and important
figures ; and even where the Chemist makes his note as a trace,
and which indicates its presence, without being able to weigh the
element, it is still sufficient to meet the wants of vegetation. It is
still greater than the farmer employs even when he uses gypsum,
and much greater than when guano is employed. The interesting
question then comes up, how can the great eflfects of guano be re-
conciled with the small quantity used? Two hundred pounds of
guano to an acre, sown broadcast upon a wheat field, produces
visible effects as far as the field can be seen when growing, and is
known to double the ci'op. How can the great efi'ects, then, be
accounted for when the quantity is so small that it would be diffi-
cult to detect it in a pound of soil ?
We may conceive it to be explained in this way : It is all dis-
solved and evenly distributed in the mass of soil, and is brought
directly to the roots of the growing plant in the right condition to
be taken up. It is not the absolute quantity called for by the crop,
it is the state or condition of solution. Supposing four times as much
used, and hence the solution would be four times as strong, would it
produce quadruple effects ? certainly not. Experience does not
sanction the doctrine ; instead of good effects, the crop would be
hurt, or if taken up by the rootlets at all, it is too strong, and the
probability is that much would not be taken up, as the strength or
suspended particles of nutriment could not be received into the
vegetable tissues at all.
We account then for the striking efforts of apparently homeo-
pathic doses of fertilizers, on the ground of their solutions being
adapted to the mouths of the spongioles through which the nutri-
ment must enter the vegetable organism, and the adaptation in
this state to the constitution of vegetables. All concentrated doses
are rejected. All floriculturalists who produce beautiful flowers,
employ agents extremely diluted. Others, who do not understand
the business of feeding beautiful plants, attempt to cram them
with too much and too rich solutions ; the consequence is, the
plants are killed outright, or else become yellow, their leaves drop,
.the whole plant indicates sufi'ering.
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 45
It is liiglilj probable too, that a farmer might produce results as
beautiful as the florist, by pursuing like means ; applying his fer-
tilizers in a state of extreme dilution, in which case it is evenly
distributed to roots and in a state in which it can be taken up.
Facts constantly occurring in the analysis of soils, favor, and even
sustain the doctrine. For how much soluble matter is there in
one thousand grains of soil ? It is possible to obtain one and one
and a half per cent, consisting of 12 to 14 substances. ^Nature
seems to dole out lier treasures; instead of dealing liberally as be-
fitting her, she gives atoms. There are practical principles in the
facts developed. If soluble substances are employed, they too
must be dealt out in atoms only. A few atoms at a time only are
found in solution in the soil. The vegetable organism is only fitted
to receive atoms; and in this we see adaptations which must bt
repeated. It is true, turkeys, swine and men may be crammed
and fattened ; but this system will not succeed in raising wheat,
cotton or corn.
Fertilizers defined. Their necessity. Mechanical means of improvements of soil.
Effects of \ime. Growth is the result of change in the constitution of the fer-
tilizers employed. Organs have each their own special influence upon the
fertilizing matter they receive. Provisions for sustaining vegetable life. A
system of adaptive husbandry. Instances cited. Adaptation of a crop to the
soil. What fertilizers will ripen a crop at the right time. The source of fer-
tilizers. Green crops. Peat. Advantages of a green crop. Marine plants.
Straw. Losses of farm yard manure. Peat, how prepared for use. Composts.
Fertilizers of animal origin. Solids and fluids.
§ 52. A Fertilizer is a substance which promotes tlie growth of
vegetables. In this definition is included water, and a great va-
riety of bodies which would scarcely be ranked under the name of
manures. The latter term is generally applied to the excrements
of animals, and yet, it has a wide signification, so that when we
46 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
have really determined the number of bodies which may be clas-
sified under it, we find that its meaning is as extensive as that of
§ 53. The necessity which has given rise to the use of this class
of bodies, is the excessive taxation of the natural resources of soil
for the support of much greater crops than the soil would sponta-
neously produce, and this taxation being prolonged century in, and
century out, the necessity now for resorting to their use and here-
after, has become a fixed institution, established in absolute do-
minion upon the money and labor of all who have anything to do
in agriculture in earnest. The improvement of the soil by me-
chanical means extends farther than the simple movement of it in
a certain way, turning it over with the plow, breaking up the
compact matter at the bottom of a furrow, exposing fresh surfaces
with the hoe or cultivator ; for in all these there are excited chem-
ical actions, whereby combinations promoting growth take place.
So also the employment of chemical bodies do not end strictly in
chemical changes; mechanical ones result from chemical actions.
Witness the efi'ect of quick lime upon a clay soil; it becomes
porous and light, even more so than by the use of the plow and
hoe ; besides, it is d^ permanent change in texture as well as com-
position. From the foregoing facts, it will be seen how one system
of improvement connects itself with another, and that the institu-
tion of one system of means sets in motion those which seemingly
belong to an opposite kind. We repeat that mechanical agencies
result in chemical, and chemical ones result also in mechanical.
All means, therefore, for improving the soil belong to double
systems, excepting those instances where a fertilizer is selected
with reference to a single result, as is often the case in most of the
8oils ; as in sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of potash, or phosphate
But still, fertilizers im] trove soils by chemical agencies, and we
shall now consider them in this range of their functions, leaving
out of view any mechanical results they may produce.
§ 54. All applications of substances designed to promote growth
do not always act by the results of change in themselves, nor by
inducing chemical changes in others prior to their introduclion into
the organism of the plant. But by far the greater number of fer-
tilizers undergo a change somewhere before they are assimilated,
NOKTH-CAJtOLINA aEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 47
■or become ineoi*porated into the vegetable body. We cannot think
-of any thing, how much ahke it seems to the constitution of organ-
lEed matt-er, which mnst not be changed in its chemical constitu-
tion before it finds its destined position in the vegetable structure.
Water, it is true, acting as the vehicle by which food is conveyed
inward, passes through and out again by respiratory pores and un-
dergoes no change; but, what it transmits, must be changed. The
actions of organs have much that is special ; each organ its own
wants, and its own apparatus to supply them. The husk of a ker-
stel of grain demands its supply, and though it gets a supply from
the comraoe circulating store, yet its organiEation elaborates from
that supply, something quite different from that of the kernel, leaf
or stalk. The ehaisges indicated are regarded as chemical, with
what, aad how much right, we cannot decide. There is a vitality
in each and ever}'^ part and organ; how much is to be attributed
to this principle has never been agreed upon; but it is supposed
by some that this principle is a force or powea* controlling the move-
ments in questioa; yet, the changes in the substance are like unto
chemical products taking place independentl}'^ of this subtle force
called mtal. But the foregoing is a departure frona the track or
iine in which we designed to move.
§ 55, But before we speak of th« f&rtilizers we may profitably
look at or consider the natural provisions for sustaining vegetable
life when left to the workings of its own unaided machineiy. The
machinery consists of organs for support and reception, discharge
and growth. The first are the roots, which consist of a tapering
stem which sends off threads terminating in a congeries of exceed-
ingly minute orifices, which are called spongiolea^ whose office is to
obtain, and we might perhaps say, select nutriment. The second
class of organs are the leaves. They exhale water, in vapor of
course, from pores which are mainly located upon the under side.
The water is pure, though it has been the carriei" of food, as it is
called, from which has been manufactured salts, sugar, starch, ex-
tract, gum, woody fibre, etc. The superfluous water escapes from
the surface of leaves. But leaves, besides performing the office of
exhalation, perform that of reception, or of absorption. Tl^is
office, however, appears to be an important one in the clover and
allied plants; while in the cereals, it is much less so. The move-
ment of water (and when impregnated with foreign matter, is
48 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVEY.
called sap,) is upward and outward, so as to distribute it to the new
growing organs. It passes into cells in its upward progress, where
it is changed or assimilated, and becomes by its passage through
them, pei'haps by the action of its walls, vegetalised, if we may
coin a word answering to animalised. There is motion in all di-
rections, but the currents tend upward and outward, so as to reach
the extreme bud and leaf. This is a necessary result, because the
bud, leaf, and extreme of the branches seem to be the source of
the force by which circulation is carried on. In the workings of
this imperfectly described machinery, which may be regarded as
belonging to a tree, we find organs which are but temporary in
their office, and which therefore require periodical renewals.
These are the leaves, fruit and bark. The permanent organs are
the trunk with its limbs, and the roots. The growth is both aerial
and sub-terrestial. The latter keeps pace with .the former; the
roots spread equally with the branches, and that the roots may be
fed they penetrate outwardly into new feeding grounds, Mhich like
the leaves, bark and fruit in- falling after decay, help supply the
necessary nutriment. They re-supply in part, and once again tra-
verse the organism. '■■
§ 56. Time, also, is not to be lost sight of in the range of enqui-
ries relative to fertilizers. It may be, and is, of great importance
to get an early and good stand ; the result of the crop may turn
upon this one point. Hence, what treatment, what fertilizer will
best fulfil the end sought ; for instance, in a crop of tobacco or cot-
ton ? What is wanted is an early, or indeed an immediate effect;
one which will not retard the germination of the seed, but which
will act gently upon the infant plant. The dose, too, is an impor-
tant consideration ; a tea-spoonful of broth is not too much for the
infant, while a table-spoonful, which an adult stomach would man-
age, would be too much for the former.
There is another enquiry in range of the specialities we are con-
sidering. What fertilizer will ripen a crop at the best time and
manner? This may not have been thought of so frequently as
sojjfie other questions ; but the tobacco grower's attention has been
turned to it. This crop must ripen evenly before frost; and as it
is a leaf ripening, not a seed, an organ which has no connexion
with the organs by which the plant is propagated, but is supplied
\ cellular tissue, which may grow and develope itself indefinitely,
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 49
and which, under the influence of abundance of nutriment, will
keep green ; this organ, the leaf, may not ripen at the right time,
and may ripen quite irregularly and the crop be half spoiled. The
problem, then, for the tobacco grower to solve, is, what fertilizer
will spend its powers and exert its properties to the best advantage
in order that the leaf sliall not grow too large, but expend or
exhaust its power before frost, and thereby promote its ripening at
the right time ; for, as long as the leaf is encouraged to grow by the
fertilizer employed, it will not stop to ripen. The leaf is under a
different law from the organs which propagate the species, though
even these may not put forth their powers when the woody system
is over stimulated with nutriment.
A system of husbandry Avhich is now called for \% adaptive, or to
use another term of like import, should be as far as possible special;
by which we mean, the use of those means of improvement which
are adapted to the soil crop. - It is now proved by experiment, that
phosphatic fertilizers are better adapted to the growth of turnips
than ammoniacal ones, and that a combination of ammoniacal and
phosphatic are best suited to wheat. These are instances of adap-
tive husbandry, IIow many such instances will be established
by experiment and observation we cannot tell. But their discovery
is in the right direction ; it is a progression towards perfection. So
also as to the mode of application ; abundant experience and obser-
vation } oint to the fact, that surface application is the true mode for
grass lands. But it may not be the best for corn lands ; it may not
supercede a more immediate application of certain fertilizers to the
hill of corn.
So again, the adaptation of a crop to the soil and to the condition
of any particular kind, is an established principle. Clayey lands
are better for wheat than sandy, and sandy soils grow rye better
than they do wheat. But observations in this direction are older
than those which are established relative to the special use of fer-
tilizers. The enquiry is and has been in the mind of every farmer,
what is this piece of land adapted to? What kind of crop will be
the most profitable? and the consequence of this kind of enquiry
lias been to establish many important practical results which are
now acted upon every day by our best farmers. This field of im-
provement comes first in the order of time ; and from the nature
50 NOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVEY.
of things, has made greater progress than that which comes from
the special use and adaptations of fertilizers.
§ 57. Fertih'zers belong to the three kingdoms, and it will pro-
mote a systematic view of them by adopting a classitication cor-
responding to their origin or source.
The most striking difference in these classes is their bulk and
the quantity which is to be applied. Those fertilizers which are
derived from the vegetable kingdom are bulky ; and hence, one
important result is secured, which cannot be obtained from the
others, especially the minei'al kingdom ; they lighten the soil and
make it more open than the other two; a result which is due from
bulk alone, while, if porosity results from mineral fertilizers, it is
in consequence of chemical changes in the soiL Mineral manures
are more special than vegetable or animal; which arises from the
fact that they are less complex in their composition, or consist of
two or three elements only. We might have made another class,
inasmuch as some of the most favorite compounds are composed of
substances deiived from the three kingdoms. These are composts,
and it might at first sight be inferred that guano owght to be classi-
fied in both the mineral and animal kingdoms ; but it is plain that
what is strictly mineral in it is secondarily derived from the animal
kingdom only ; as it consists of the excrements of birds, who have
subsisted mainly upon fish or other animal bodies.
I 58. Vegetable fertilizers do not furnish exclusively vegetable
matter, they also yield up mineral matter, which has already been
mentioned under the name inorganic. It is that which has been
taken up and fulfilled its functions in the vegetable organism, and
now, after its death, it is again seperated by a series of chemical
actions, and restored again to the soil. It is probably the best part
of it, and sooner or more easily soluble, or more quickly prepared
for its receptioii into the vegetable organism than the unchanged
elements of soil.
§ 59. Vegetable fertilizers are matters which have decomposed;
their particles separated as well mechanically as chemically ; in
fine, which have passed through a series of changes which have
resulted in the formation of a class of new bodies. The vegetable
loses its green, and is blackened, as if charred, but at the same
time is softened and becomes pulpy ; the fibrous structure disap-
pears and the organization is broken up. It has become subject to
NOETH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 51
chemical laws. The common term is rotten or rotted. All vege-
table matters pass througli the same changes, whether matured
wood, twigs or leaves. Matured wood requires more time, but ul-
timately it will become a mixed fertilizer, and have a value pro-
portioned to the kind of inorganic matter combined with its quan-
tit}'^ ; for observation and experiment proves that the pines, poplars
and willows have less mineral matters than oak, hickory or birch:
and certain parts have more than others. The bark of the oak is
richer in lime than the wood ; the twigs and leaves are richer in
phosphates than the wood, and the fruits are worth more for fer-
tilizers than other parts, because they contain more potash and phos-
phates combined. One thousand pounds of the willow wood will
enrich the soil four and a half per cent., while one thousand
pounds of dry leaves will enrich it at the rate of eighty-two per
cent. Leaves then would bear hauling much farther than the saw
dust of willows or pines; hence, it will be perceived that leaves
must produce a much greater effect; they are richer in the money
Fertilizers belonging to the vegetable kingdom are used in a
green or in a decomposing state, as in green crops, plowed under
and in the condition of peat, or peaty matter formed in bogs, and
in a state of partial decay.
Green crops are fertilizers of the first order, being decomposable
speedily in consequence of the full charge of sap which they con-
tain when plowed under the sod. They change into a light black
mould and assume the condition of a compost heap. A crop is
selected for this purpose which grows rapidly, has extensive roots,
and is supposed to obtain its stock of materials in part from the at-
mosphere. This last is considered a clear gain. The extended
roots concentrate the mineral matter in the plant, and if its roots
run deep, bring up fertilizers beyond the reach of the wheat plant.
At any rate, whatever the green crop contains is laid down in a
layer some four or five inches beneath the surface, and is really a
magazine of food.
The red clover and buckwheat are employed most frequently in
the northern and middle States, while the pea is best adapted to
the latitude and climate of North and South-Carolina. But all that
part of North-Carolina which lies north of the Central Railroad,
may sow clover instead of the pea. But the pea is a richer plant,
62 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
especially if the plant is mature, and its pods iilled with fruit.
Til e pea has long roots; we have found them twelve feet long.
Green manuring is not confined to the plants named ; all the clover
class, as lupin, lucern, etc., borage, turnips, and wild mustard are
sown in Europe for the same purpose.
§ 60. The advantages accruing from green crops are numerous,
but they are both mechanical and chemical ; the development of
ammonia, nitric and carbonic acid within the soil and which therefore
are in the best condition to be absorbed by it, belong to the latter.
It is maintained that a green crop plowed in enriches the soil as
much as the droppings of cattle from three times the quantity of
green food consigned to the soil by the plow. Another advantage
claimed is, that about three-fourths of the whole organic matter is
derived from the atmosphere. This is the most likely to be true in
the clover and bean family.
Those who reside near the sea may obtain sea-weed, and plow
it in, in the same condition that it is cast upon the shore. Sea-
weeds decompose readily ; they yield both organic and saline
matter, and are nearly equal, for potatoes, to barnyard manure.
Sea-weeds are a specific fertilizer for asparagus, a sea-shore plant.
The coast of North-Carolina, however, does not abound so much in
this class of fertilizers, as the northern rocky shores of the Atlantic.
The foregoing fertilizers are employed in their wet state. The fol-
lowing are spread upon the ground dry.
§ 61. Straw of all kinds are used as fertilizers. In the condition
of straw or hay, which is a plant dried in the sun, the decomposi-
tion is comparatively slow, even if buried in the soil. Mixed with
animal matter in heaps, its change is rapid ; fermentation is induced
which soon reduces the mass to a bulky consistence, or the fibre
of the straw is separated or broken, and admits, thereby, of a ready
incorporation with the soil.
Fertilizers undergoing a series of changes in the yards where
they are formed are subject to a considerable lo^s of weight. The
figures given by Johnson are the following. A recent mixture
weighs, for example, from 46 to 50 cwt.
After 6 weeks, weighs 40 to 44 "
After 8 weeks, weighs 38 to 40 "
After when half rotten, weighs 30 to 35 "
And when fully rotten, weighs 20 to 25 "
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURTEY. 53
A loss of more than one-half of its weight during the time re-
quired to make what is called short manure. But it is not a loss
of one-half its value. It may be infered that the principal loss in
weight is wafer, though ammonia and carbonic acid also escape.
Biit an informed farmer would stop the loss of valuable pai-ts by
the use of absorbents, as plaster, weak solution of sulphate of iron,
sprinkled over the heap or mass, while fermenting. By these
means, if the loss in weight was not entirely prevented, it would
greatly diminish that which is regarded as valuable and be confined
to the watery parts.
Covering the dry manure in the soil answers the same purpose.
Among the dry materials generally discarded by our farmers is saw
dust. It hes in great heaps around the sites of old saw mills, and
has never, in this State, been employed as a manure. It is true
that it generally consists of pine, still, on sandy lands, applied in
small and repeated doses, it will supply organic matter and prepare
the way for a satisfactory use of marl. One hundred loads to the
acre is a suitable quantity. This should be spread and ploughed
§ 62. The seeds of all plants are richer fertilizers than the stems
or leaves. Cotton seed is in great repute, indeed all that furnish
oils seem to be well adapted to promote vegetation.
Rape seed (Brassica napus) is equal to cotton seed, but is too
valuable for its oil to be employed before expression. The cake
which remains is still valuable.
§ 63. Peat is one of the most common materials which has been
employed as a fertilizer, and has received the same sanction of
those who have used it, and as it is widely distributed it is neces-
sary to notice it in this connexion. It may be regarded as the
basis of all composts. It may be employed by itself, provided it
is brought by sufficient exposure to the air and moisture to pass
into a pulverulent state .when mixed with the soil. If lumps of
peat, which have dried in the air, are buried in the soil, they con-
tinue in the condition of lumps as a nuisance for two or three years,
but if kept moist in a heap, and a species of fermentation is excit-
ed, it then pulverises and mixes readily with the soil.
Peat is best prepared for crops by composting it with other sub-
stances. Johnson gives the following formula as the best, all
54: NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVlilY.
things considered, especially with reference to the cost of materials,
and the effects which are produced :
Saw dust or earthy peat, (muck,) 40 bushels.
Ooal tar, 20 gallons.
Bone dust, V bushels.
Sulphate of soda, (glaubers salts,) 1 cwt.
Sulphate of magnesia, (ep. salts,) 1^ cwt.
Common salt, 1^ cwt.
Quick lime, 20 bushels. ^
'' These materials are mixed and put into a heap and allowed to'
ferment three weeks; then turned and allowed again to ferment,
when the compost is ready for use.
"This compound is compared with guano, both as a fertilizer for
hay and turnips.
" On hay, per imperial acre :
Nothing, 416 stones.
Guano, 3 cwt., T52 " $7 50
Compost, 40 bushels, 761 " 5 00
" On turnips :
Farm yard manure, 28 yards, .... 26 tons.
Guano, 5 cwt., 18 " |12 50
Compost, 64 bushels, 29 " 7 75
According to the foregoing experiments the compost seems to be
better than guano."
But Johnson remarks that the experiments need repeating, and
yet from the nature of the compost there is nothing improbable
in the results. It will be observed that the compost contains coal
tar, a substance which, a priori, we should be very likely to place
any where else than in a list with fertilizers, yet experience proves
A combination of one hundred parts of plaster, and from one to
three parts of coal tar, well mixed in a mortar, is valuable in
agriculture. For certain purposes olive oil is added, as when the
mixture is designed for application to putrid sores, etc. This is
principally used, but without the olive oil, in place of chloride of
NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 55
lime to disinfect sinks, privies, etc. It purifies water in a short
But it is also valuable in agriculture, one-half a pound of the
powder dissolved in 5 or 6 gallons of water and sprinkled on the
litter of a stable will deprive a cubic yard of manure of all odor,
and prevent the loss of fertilizing matter.
Coal tar has also been applied, per se, to wheat stubble for the
benefit of a root crop which was to succeed.
The use of coal tar is mentioned in this place as in many of the
towns of North-Carolina it can be obtained at the gas works. It
is now wasted. It is expected, also, that the kerosine oil works,
which are about to be established upon Deep river, will furnish
large quantities of coal tar for market.
§64. But to return to the consideration of peat and muck.
Many questions have been raised with respect to their use, which
are really superfluous ; as in what kinds of soils do they produce the
best results, etc. Now, this substance, if properly prepared, acts
beneficially on all kinds of soils. It may be in a condition to
benefit no soil ; and hence, prejudices will be raised, when its
failure is our own fault. But questions respecting the best mode of
preparing it for use, are highly important.
There are many modes of composting, and undoubtedly some
formula prescribing the ingredients should be adopted ; and in
constructing a formula, regard must be had, both to the crop it is
intended for, and the condition of the soil to which it is to be
In practice, muck or peat which by itself is scarcely soluble, re-
quires an alkali to efifect a solution of it at least.
Mr. Dana, in his Muck Manual, gives a good formula which can
be followed by any person who is inclined to try it. It is com-
posed of the following proportions :
Peat, 50 lbs.
Salt, 1 bushel.
Ashes, 1' do.
Water, 100 gallons.
The ashes and peat are well mixed, adding a little water to
moisten the materials. This mixture lies a week, when the dis-
solved salt or brine is to be added and well stirred in a hoorshead.
66 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
It requires stirring for a week, when it is fit for use. The brown
liquid which floats above tlie peat, contains the whole organic
matter in the salts. This is to be appHed to the land it is designed
for, in sohition. In the course of four or five weeks, however,
another substance is formed, sulphuretted hydrogen, which is in-
jurious to vegetation. But in the mean time, repeated additions of
water w^ill furnish more soluble matter from the peat. A decided
benefit is seen upon corn, onions, grass, barley, etc. A compost
of these materials applied dry will be attained with less trouble*
and though its effects may not be exhibited so soon, yet they will
last longer. In the present state of our knowledge respecting the
powers of the roots of vegetables to select or obtain nutriment,
the necessity of obtaining a soluble condition of peat before its ap-
plication, is not well settled ; for it seems that the roots do act upon
insoluble matters, and appropriate them to the use of the plant.
By this phraseology, it is not meant that roots do take up insoluble
material, but that they have a power of imparting solubility which
water b}^ its own action has not.
§ 65. Fertilisers of Animal Origiti. — It will be superfluous to
enumerate all the kinds which are referred to the animal kingdonn.
It is sufficient to observe that everything has been or may be em-
ployed for manures which has lived. All parts, all organs, hair.
wool, skin, flesh and bone, help make up the list. To the foregoing
we may add the animal liquids, blood, and the excrements both
solid and liquid. As in the vegetable kingdom, they possess differ-
A knowledge of their composition furnishes a reason why they
are so, as well as how they act.
Bone is composed of:
Phosphate of lime, 55.50
" Magnesia, 2.00
Soda and common salt, 2.50
Carbonate of lime, 3.25
Fluoride of calcium, 3.00
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 07
In adding dry bone pulverized there is added thirty-three per
cent, of organic matter in gelatine.
Bones are employed in a dry state after being ground or crushed.
They of course act slowly in this condition, but with excellent re-
sults. The most popular mode of employing bone, however, is as
a super-phosphate, as it is called. This substance is prepared by
mixing one half of its weight or its whole weiglit, which is better,
with sulphuric acid, (oil of vitriol,) previously diluted with three
times its hulk of water. The materials require repeated stirring.
When the solution is effected, a pasty substance is obtained. Two
modes of applying it are recommended. The first in substance, in
the condition of a powder. This is obtained by mixing with char-
coal powder, dry peat, saw-dust or a fine vegetable soil. If it is
wished to drill in this fertilizer with the seed for a crop, as wheat,
the powdered state as above may be resorted to, or if it is designed
to use a solution, it is necessary to add forty or fifty times its quan-
tity of water, when it may be applied to the crop with a water
cart. The latter mode brings out results much more speedil}^, and
as farmers are anxious to see immediate effects, the latter may
afford more encouragement to use those fertilizers which belong
to the first class.
§ 6Q. The comparative results as' determined by experiments of
the two forms of bones, the crushed and dissolved, should be given
in this connexion. Thus, while 16 bushels of crushed bones gave
ten tons and three hundred pounds per acre, two bushels of super-
phosphate gave nine tons and twelve hundred pounds ; the latter
approximating very closely upon the former. But this statement
taken literally, does not reveal to us the state of the case, fov the^
latter has cost something for its preparation, but the difference in;
the long run will be found to be much less, inasmuch as the pow-
dered preparation will continue to fertilize the soil for the next 10
years without additional expense; and yet the following practice
we would recommend, viz : for all cultivated crops, as turnip&,.
corn, oats, etc., to use the super-phosphate on the score of speedy
action and immediate results; for long continued use, as for pas-
tures and hay, the ground bones. The powder will be slowly das-
solved by the aid of carbonic acid and; furnish thereby a constant
supply of food for years in succession.. So also, as a fertilizer for
vines and fruit trees, the bone in substance answers a batter pur-
58 NORTH- CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
■pose than the super-phosphate. It is no object to over manure a
vine or tree; what is wanted is a steady and constant supply.
When a great growth of vine and limbs is obtained by great doses
<of fertilizers, the wood is not perfected, and the tendency will be
to develope imperfectly consolidated or unripe wood rather than
fruit; there will be an over-burthen of the latter. Even uncrnshed
bones buried among the roots of a vine produce the best of results.
In that way, the bones are, as it were, penetrated by thousands of
spongioles, which, bj a power not well understood, supply from
these comparatively insoluble bodies, all the nutriment they require
of this kind, for; heavy crops.
The experynents of Wohler show that bones are soluble in water
vwitho^it tke ^id of ,. carbonic acid. Water which has been filtered
;through.:a ma^s of 'bones, has always contained phosphates in solu-
tion. But it appears that the quantity dissolved depends partly
upon the stage of putrefaction which they have reached ; and
hence, it is inferred timtfresh bones kept wet will furnish this im-
portant fertilizer in a mode cheaper tlian that which is usually pur-
§ &7. Horn (horn core) is .composed of:
Water, ! 10.31
Phosphates of hme and ^magnesia, 46.14
Carbonate of limq, 7.71
.Gelatine (^organic roattei;) 35.84
§ 68. Xiquid excrements, as tlie urine of different animals, in-
stead of being preserved in !its liquid state, have been of late
iniixed with a sufficient quantity of gypsum to fix the volatile com-
ipounds, as the ammonia, and then dried to a powder; in this state
It is ;a,ppli.ed to land. But it is doubtful if it has an advantage over
the Tdttixtureveomposed of peat. Let everyone consult his feelings
in regard to .the ^preparation of these bodies, especially where
apparatus is not at .hand, and he will readily understand why it is
that the preparation and even preservation of many valuable sub-
stances is neglected;; .for much care and work is involved in the
process when evaporation and preparation of superphosphates are
.talked about. But when [preaeivvation and preparations are sim-
SrOETH-CAROLINl. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. <0
plified, it is possible to persuade farmers to undertake it. It is not
so much for want of knowledge that so much is neglected; it is
i)ecanse the work is presented in a shape too complicated, or re-
-quiring too much attention and labor. Guann, with all its expense,
has taken everywhere, because it is ready to apply. If farmers
had to cook it before it could be used, very little would have been
lased in North-Carolina.
§ 69. For these reasons it is believed that very few will resort to
the use of tanks and distribution carts for the preservation and
distribution of the liquid excrements of men and cattle. A muck
or peat yard with a depression in the middle, which may be made
the receptacle of offal, blood, urine, etc., will be found the most
eligible mode of preserving these bodies. It is known that every
ihing is to go there- and all that will be required to preserve the
volatile matters and absorb offensive gases, will be to use plaster
.and peat intermixed with a small quantity of coal ta.r, which can
now be procured in almost every village of the State. These im-
perfect compost beds may be turned over with the fork from time
to time in order to secure a perfect mixture. It should be spread
broadcast, and the harrow used to mix it with upper soil.
§ 70. For the preparation of the fluid substances of animals, a
compost with peat is probably the best which can be devised.
Blood and fluid excrements mixed with charcoal or peat, the latter
of which is the -cheapest and most easily prepared, form with little
labor and expense an excellent compost. Indeed the basis should
be kept in heaps for the reception of fluid refuse matter; even the
soapsuds of the wash room, which are generally wasted, should
And a repository ther«. But let the small farmer enumerate the
animal substances which might be saved in the course of a year.
The blood, hair, wool, bristles, feathers, skin, old leather, woolen
rags, fragments of bones, to which we may add entire carcasses of
dead animals, even cats and dogs, will form a formidable mass
when deposited- together in the farmyard. These, when moistened
or wet in a heap with ammoniated compounds, or even water, will
soften, undergo a partial fermentation, and in time become as val-
uable as guano. The absorbant power of peat and charcoal will
fix all the valuable gases.
The presei*vation of the foregoing substances require no cash,
cand very -little time, 4ind there is no necessity of attempting the
60 NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
regnlation of the quantity by weight or measure. Woolen rags may
be deposited among the roots of vines or fruit trees; hair, bristles,
old slioes and leather, etc., may have the same destination. One
ton of hair, bristles and wool are worth as much as four or five tons
of blood. The dry materials enumerated are fitted to those crops
which are to be sustained for several years in succession, as meadow
land and pasturage, while the fluid and easily decomposed kinds
are better suited to the annual hoed crops. In tliis distribution we
obtain more speedily their money value, Nitrogen is supposed to
be the most important element of animal bodies. Thus dry blood
contains 15.50 per cent.; dry skin, hair and horns, from 16 to 17.50
per cent, of nitrogen. Still, all these substances arc rich in phos-
phates, and hence, their value is due in part to the latter.
To the planter, the importance of providing for the preparation
or preservation of night soil, presents itself in a strong light ;
especially, if we can confide in the conclusions of Bousingault.
According to this distinguished farmer and chemist, the liquid and
solid excrements of an adult individual amount on the average to
1-| pounds daily, and that they contain 3 per cent of nitrogen.
According to this calculation, they will amount in a year to 547
pounds, containing 16.41 pounds nitrogen ; a quantity sufficient to
yield the nitrogen of 800 pounds of wheat, or of 900 pounds barley.
The quantity is more than sufficient to fertilize an acre of land.
From the foregoing it is not difficult to form an estimate of what
is lost upon plantations stocked with one hundred, or any given
number of laborers ; or to place it in another point of view, how
much might be gained by the adoption of means which shall en-
force the preservation of excrements, both liquid and solid.
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Solid excrements. Guano. Composition and comparative yalue. Discrepancies
§ 71. The solid excrements of animals form a well known class
«ef fertilizing bodies of great value. Their value depends upon
the food upon which the animals are supported. It may consist of
matters little better than ground hay intermixed with small por-
tions of mucus; or if fed upon corn, it is richly charged with am-
monia, or perhaps still richer, if fed upon fish and animal substances.
The kinds receive their designation according to their origin.
Night soil, human excrement, which when dried with gypsum or
lime, is sold under the name o^ poudrette. The former, in conse-
<<|uence of its richness, loses more of its value by exposure to the
atmosphere, than any other kind. Hence arises the necessity of
mixing it with absorbants, such as plaster, charcoal, peat, sawdust,
-etc. To these may be added the sulphuric acid or muriatic; both
form with ammonia a valuable fertilizer. Muriatic acid may be
sprinkled over foecal matters in the vault from a copper watering
vessel. The acid sliouid be diluted with two and a half times its
l)ulk of water.
The products of the horse, cow and hog should be mixed together,
as in that case the properties which are wanting in one are sup-
plied by the other. Fermentation, resulting in a prepared state
for use, will be secured more safely than when ihej are used alone.
Those of the horse, it is well known, if packed into heaps, heats
and is nearly destroyed. That of hogs fattening upon grain is
probably richer than any other, but is far less liable to heat than
the former. It is accused of imparting an unpleasant taste to roots
when freely used, in consequence of containing an unexamined
§ 72. The excrement of birds is richer in fertilizing matter than
■quadrupeds, in consequence of mixture. The urate which exists
in the urine of the latter, passes off with the foecal in the for-
mer. That of pigeons is in repute in Flanders, Spain and other
countries in Europe. In some parts of Spain it is sold for four-
pence a pound, and is used for melons, tomatoes and flower roots.
NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Its valuable properties are no doubt due to the grains upon which
the birds feed. In Flanders the nsanure of one hundred birds is
Worth twenty shillings a year for agricultural purposes.
Equally valuable are the same products from the domestic fowtv
geese and ducks, when fed upon corn. When the domestic fowl
is lodged in a suitable shed, the free use of gypsum upon the floor
is indispensable to the preservation of the volatile purts. It is ne-
cessary to use it with the same care as is observed in the use of a?l
compounds which contain the elements of ammonia.
§ 73. Of the solid animal fertilizers, the most celebrated of this
class is Guano, now generally used and is by some regarded as
almost indispensable for the successful cultivation of wheat and
This substance consists of the excrements of birds, (sea fowl,)
which feed mostly on fish or animal matter. The accumulation
and composition is to be attributed to the dryness of the atmos-
phere. There are two varieties in mar'^et, the South-American
from the coast of Peru, and the Mexican from the Gulf. The
former is from a rainless district, and hence retains its soluble nmt-
ter ; the latter is from a district subject to rains, and hence its am-
monia salts and other soluble matters are diminished to a minimum
quantity. A little reflection will enable a person of information to
understand their relative values, especially when it is known that
the latter frequently contains from 60 to 8Q per cent, of bone earth,
and the former 50 per cent, of soluble matters, and rich in ammo-
niacal salts, and only about 23 to 25 per cent, of phosphates or bone
earth. In accounting, however, for the eifects of guano, we should
not lose sight of their complex composition. This tact is brought
out in the following analysis :
Urate of ammonia, 3.24
Oxalate of ammonia, 13.35
Phosphate of ammonia, 6.45
" Lime, 9.94
" Ammonia and magnesia, 4.19
" Soda, 5.29
Muriate of soda, 0.10
Sulphate of soda, 1.19
" Potash, 4.22
NO-BTH'-GAKOLMA aEOLOGICAL SUBVEY. |a
.; Muriate of ammonia, ^..^ 6.50
Water and organic matter, 5.90
Clay and sand, 28.31
Tliis elaborate analysis is selected for the purpose of showing the
complexity of composition of gnano. The most valuable parts of
it, it will be oeen, are- the ammoniacal salts and phosphatic salts.
In some varieties the guano is weakened by sand and clay ; it is
often much less, rarely more^ unless adulterated. Potash is usually
regarded as existing in too small proportions to effect its value, yet
it is found as a salt in this case to be larger than usual ; the per
centage rarely exceeding one per cent. It may be expected, there-
fore, that this deficiency may be observed in the course of a few
years of use.
§ Y4r. The length of time during whfch guano acts is estimated
variously by observers, though all agree that the guano of the
rainless districts have a shorter hfe than those which are preserved
upon a rainy coast. The reason is obvious. In this climate the
former are expended in two years ; the Tatter, as they resemble
bone earth, last longer, — at least twice as long.
It must be admitted that guano, in this country, has laid agricul-
ture under immense obligations. It has encouraged, or, indeed,
inaugurated a new system, and has given that impetus to it which
will never die out.
The advantages of guano in the Southern States are numerous.
By its use old fields are brought into bearing immediately, and
bear at once money making crops. Several years are required to
resuscitate an old field in the ordinary mode of procedure. The
result, then, is the saving of time. On cotton and tobacco its
influence is felt strongl}'' in securing early a good stand. Its influ-
ence is continued down to the right period for ripening, aiid no
doubt in those cases where the proper quantity is used it ceases to
grow, and the process proceeds regularly, and thereby secures
uniformity ; a point of the greatest importance where a high priced
tobacco is the object.
The quantity of guano per acre, which is useful, seems to be
tolerably well determined. Yery few use more than two hundred
pounds to the acre. Curious, as well as instructive experiments
mt NOETH-CAitOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
are given in Johnson's elements of agriculture of the effects of
quantity on a crop. Thus:
QUANTITY OF GTJAKO. EFFECT ON THE TCRNIP CROP. ON THK AFTEE CKOP OF WIIEAT.
4 cwt. to the acre, (Scotch.) 18 tons of good turnips. Good wheat.
8 cwt. to the acre. 14 tons very indifferent. Inferior.
f Looked, when young, won- f Stable black, grain
! derfully well, but there dark, and not larg-
lo cwt. to the acre. < ,.^., i n ■ ^^ t ■[ <.u n
j was little iulb in the end, j er than small
I produce 10 tons. I rice.
Guano is accused of acting injuriously when its use is protracted.
The probable influence of guano, when used for several years on
the same area, is to cause an exliaustion of those elements in the
sqil which the guano cannot supply. Potash is probably so much
diminished that it ceases to furnish it to ihe crops. However this
may be, it is evident that its use increases so largely the quantity
or •weight that to supply any element from the soil alone would
diminish the stock or magazine in a greater ratio, and hence more
speedily than ordinary crops. Bence, as the supply is derived
originally from the rocks, and never can accummulate under these
circumstances, though every year adds its atoms to the soil, yet it
is used faster by far than it is produced ; the consequence is, the
stock will be too much dimniishod to supply the wants after an
uncertain period, and the soil will actuall}^ become poor in one or
more elements necessary to the cultivated plant.
If potash is deficient in a soil, and is the result of the excessive
use of guano, the addition of leached ashes will supply the deflci-
ency ; but a mixture of well pulverized peat and ashes with guano
will best supply the deficiences of this fertilizer. It is doubtful
whether the use of guano ought not to be intermittent. As we
have said, it saves time in resuscitating old fields. If, after one or
two years, guano is dismissed, and the fertility is kept up afterwards
by vegetable and mineral substances composted together, the evil
of exhaustion will be averted.
§ 75, In consequence of the high price of guano, an article of an
inferior value is often brought to market, or else it is adulterated.
Chemical changes also affect its value. It is not easy to form a
judgment by occular inspection. Those which are hrown have un-
dergone those changes which approximate a decomposition, which
NORTH-CABOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. I#
discharges a large proportion of its ammonia. Hence, the lighter
the color the less change it has undergone, and therefore the better.
A strong odor of ammonia is a good indication ; if not free, a
trial may be made by mixing a spoonful of it with air-slacked lime
in a glass ; ammonia fumes ought to be exhaled if good. Too much
water is indicated by its mechanical condition. Fifty-five dollars
per ton for water is a poor investment. Guano then should be dry.
If much sand is intermixed it may be detected by mixing it with
water in a tumbler, giving a little time for subsidence, pour off the
top, repeat the operation a few times, and the quantity of sand will
remain at the bottom of the tumbler. There is another experiment
which it is easy to perform for the purpose of determining the
quantity of sand, and if weighed, the result may be quite accurate.
Heat the weighed quantity to redness, when the volatile matters,
ammonia and others of that nature, will be consumed or dissipated.
Dissolve the remainder in dilute muriatic acid of the shops by ap-
plying a moderate heat. The remainder will be sand or other use-
less earth. Elaborate analyses are too difficult and expensive to
be undertaken tor a moderate quant'ty of guano, but the foregoing
may be resorted to and ought to be ; for they may account for a
failui-e, or explain more satisfactorily the results upon the crop,
whether remarkably good, indifferent or bad. Much, however,
must be trusted to the character of the merchant.
§ 76. The money value of animal manures cannot be accurately
determined for many reasons, so much depends on the season,
and circumstances under which the}'- are employed. It is only the
theoretical value which chemistry fixes. This is undoubtedly to
be trusted, but it often happens that an inferior manure thus tested
has a better influence than one which has tlie highest chemical or
theoretical value. It seems to be settled that the value of a manure
for a given crop depends upon the quantity of nitrogen it contains,
and tables have been constructed which are designed to express this
fact. It is assumed, however, that a selected example is represent-
ed by a given number, it may be 1000 or 100. This is the standard
with which the others are compared, and it ma^^ be interesting to
consult a table constructed upon this principle, and also occasional-
ly useful. The following is given bj Johnson:
6Q NORTH-CAKOLINA &E0L0GICA1L 8UKV1CY.
Farm yard manure, 100 taken as a standard.
Solid excrements of the cow, , 125
" " " horse, 73
Liquid excrements of the cow, 91
" " " horse, 1&
Mixed " " cow, . . 9S
" " " horse, 54
" " " sheep, 36
» " •' pig, 64
Dry flesh, 3
Pigeon's excreta, 5
Flemish liquid manure, 200
Liquid blood, 15
Dry do 4
Cow hair, 3
Horn shavings, 3
Dry woolen rags, 2^
There is considerable truth, no doubt, in the foregoing table, in-
asmucli as experience supports it so fVequent]}^ that in the minds
of many it may in fact merit a high degree of contidence. But in
the example, woolen rags rank in this scale as high as 2-|, that
is, 2|- pounds of woolen rags possess as much fertilizing power as
100 pounds of farmyard manure, is doubtful; the practice of wast-
ing them, however, should not be tolerated. According to the
cbomistry of pigeons' excrements, 5 pounds are worth as niuch as
100 pounds of farmyard manure. Reliable expeiience, and all
that Johnson* has said of it in another place, seems to sustain in
part this view, but all things considered, it is possible it also is
ranked too high.
■ Johnson's Elements of Agriculture, p. 213 — 14.
NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKTET. 67
Mineral fertilizers. Sulphates. Native phosphates. Carbonates. Nitratesi
Silicates. Ashes. Analysis of the ash of the white-oak. Composition of
peat ashes. Management of volatile and other fertilizers,
§ 77. As the name implies, mineral fertilizers are derived from
the mineral kingdom. Tiiey comprehend exactly the common ele-
ments of soil, and differ from them only in being isolated and in
large quantities. Marl does not differ from the carbonate of lime
in the soil; phosphate of lime is a soil element, bnt we procure it
in quantities and intermix it with soil, and then call it a fertilizer.
The process of fertilization consists simply in resupplying what has
been removed, or adding it when it is from the start defective, or
entirely absent. The farmer, in fertilization, goes to work and sup-
plies from the mineral stores of nature what to him is wanting to
make his crops grow.
§ 78. This kingdom is rich in fertilizers, the nu?nber exceeds
those of both the vegetable and animal kingdoms.
As a class, they are composed of combinations of two and some-
times three elements, which, as a whole, is termed a salt, and they
resolve themselves into two parts, a base and an acid ; thus sul-
phate of lime is a salt, and consists of lime, which is the base, and
sulphuric acid (oil of vitriol,) which is the acid. Yirtually, it seems
to be simply a base and an acid ; still, lime is a compound of oxy-
gen and calcium, and oil of vitriol of sulphur and oxygen ; there
is, therefore, three partners in the concern — oxygen^ suljphuT !'nd
calcium. Now in its action, it is not calcium, but lime ^ and
though sulphur seems to be dissolved in certain animal fluids, yet
it is generally the compound of sulphur and oil of vitriol which is
found in the organic tissues. In the mind of tlie farmer oil of
vitriol should not be strongly persistent; for, in combining with
lime, or iron, or a 5«tf6, this powei'ful substance loses its sour, caustic
properties, and the gj^psum formed is really one of the gentlest,
mildest and modest bodies in the whole mineral kingdom, notwith-
standing it contains that audacious consumer of all things, oil of
§ 79. But we propose to consider somewhat in detail the mineral
fertilizers under the heads they are ranked by writers upon agricul-
68 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
itural chemistry, and to make such remarks upon them as we may
4eera useful to the planter.
It need not be interred, it appears to us, that because a substance
is classed with minerals, that its mode of action differs materially
from those derived from the vegetable kingdom, or that they are
selected by the roots of plants and taken up by them in a different
mode. In the vegetable and animal economy, they must be re-
garded as necessities, and cannot be dispensed with, though in
quantity they ajie necessary only in small proportions.
§ 80. /Sulphates, are no doubt taken up into the vegetable organ-
ism, and if decomposed by the roots or other agencies in the soil with-
out the sulphur which exists in may plants, could not be satisfac-
torily acconntefl for. Being taken up as sulphates, the plant has
power to decompose them and appropriate the sulphur and the
base of the salt.
§ 81. Sulphate of lime, or gypsum. This substance is feebly
■soluble in water. In its purest crystalline condition, it is transpa-
rent, and is called selenite ; when massive it is white or gray, and
often graiuilar, or else compact when it forms the common gypsum
of agriculture, and which may be distinguished from carbonate of
lime or marble by its softness, and not effervescing with acids. It
is so eoft as to be scratched by the finger nail.
It occurs abundantly in nature, but is never found associated
with primary rocks, as granite, mica slate, gneiss, etc. This should
be recollected. There is no plaster in North-Carolina unless it is
associated with the sandstones of Orange, Chatham or Moore. The
agalraatolite, resembling soapstone, has been mistaken for it; in-
deed, true soapstone is often mistaken for it. Gypsum is usually,
too, accompanied with salt springs or salt, and the only indication
that possibly gypsum may occur in this state are the feeble saline
wells of this formation.
Gypsum appears to have a specific action on the clovers and plants
of this natural order, though its activity is less on some species than
others. The white clover springs up under the influence of ashes
and marls, the red under that of gypsum. Applied directly to
many crops, and it is difficult to see that it has benefitted them.
This is the case with wheat. Ko one at present applies it to his
crop of wheat directly, but it is first used to grow a crop of clover.
This, after being fed oft" in part by stock, is plowed in and the wheat
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL aUKVET. 09
then sowed. It is tlionglit by many farmers in the wheat growing
districts of New York, tliat the system o^ clover, gyjpsum and wheat,
with alternate rests, is the true system of rotation, and following it
the lands will remain as fertile as they ever were. Tiiis view, how-
ever, it is difficult to reconcile with the fact that several elements
are removed with every bushel of wheat sold, which gypsum can-
not supply ; the natural result, insolvency, ought to follow, as the
supply of food is limited.
Gypsum has a tine effect upon the Irish potatoe. It is sown
broadcast upon the leaves or foilage when it is hoed the first time.
Grass lands are also improved by it. Gypsura appears to be useful
to wheat in this way ; the grain is first soaked over night, and
when wet is rolled in plaster which adheres to it; when it is sown^
it is covered with a coat of gppsum. In this mode of use, it seems
to aid in bringing it forward, or in promoting an early germination,
A remarkable fact with respect to the use of it in the gypsum coun-
try of New York, is, that it acts as decidedly upon farms where
gypsura exists in beds, as in other parts of the State.
In JSTew York, gypsum has been applied with benefit to all crops
but not by every individual. It is said that upon the soil of Long
Island it is of no use, and it is accounted for on the ground that the
soil is already supplied, or that the sea spray furnishes enough for
every crop; certain it is that where the soil has |- per cent, it is
useless to add more. The failure of gypsum is generally due to
the fact that there is enough in the soil, if so, it may be determined
§ 82. The good effects of gypsum has been explained in several
ways. One theorist has maintained that it is simply a stimulant
to plants, or a condiment. This view is overhung with doubts.
The most rational theory seems to be that it furnishes both sulphur
and lime, or is indeed food. Those plants whose growth is strik-
ingly promoted by its use contain notable proportions of both sul-
phur and lime. Clover, for example, is one; mustard is another.
I have already stated that rape seed, which is a mustard plant,
contains a large proportion of the former.
The importance of gypsum, or, to be more general, the sulphates,
will be best appreciated when it is stated that the most important
constituents of our bodies contain and require sulphur.
70 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Thus those parts of the blood which are known as fibrin ami
serum, as well as the egg of fowls, contain sulphur. This is strik-
ino-lj man-ifest when they are in a state of decomposition, as they
all give off cotmpounds which exhale the offensive odor of a sulphur
compound, well known in the rotten egg; — so also they all blacken
silver. Now the bodies named above are all of animal origin, but
the sulphur is not diseng'iged by the animal forces. It is obtained
ready formed in the roots and seeds, the cereals and leguminous
plants, such as peas, beans and wheat.
To -account for the origin of sulphur in animal organisms, it is
necessary to go back to the soils, to those salts, such as gypsum,
sulphate of ammonia, etc., which contain sulphur in combination.
To the v-eg«table organism is assigned the business of separating
this substance from its combinations, and form the roots and seeds
spoken of; the animal that feeds upon them obtains, without labor,
the sulphur, separated and united with such compounds as we find
in the blood, fibrin and serum. The vegetable kingdom thereby
becomes a great labor-saving machine to the animal, as all its heavy
and complicated duties are performed by it in preparing food for
animals. It is not necessarj^ that we should be able to account for
changes effected by the vegetable before we can admit the forego-
ing views. Experiment assures us of the facts in the case. Feed
a clover plant or a mustard with gypsum and the sulphur will be
found in both.
§ 83. Gypsum is applied at the rate of from 2 to 3 tons per acre
broadcast. When used for Indian corn it is applied around the
hill, and it is regarded as an eminent absorber of water as well as
§ 84. When gypsum has been used for many years upon the
same ground it ceases to produce an increase of the same crop.
, The ground is then said to be plaster sick. It occurs only with
those lan-ds where it exists in excess in the soil in consequence of
its \'veQ application for a succession of 3'ears. The remedy is to
suspen<il its use and substitute wood ashes.
§ 85. Sulphate of ammonia. — We place this salt in juxtaposition
with gypsum, the object will be seen in the character of the subjoined
reniai ks. As its name implies, it is c-omposed of sulphuric acid
and ammonia. We see nothing of it in the soil or elsewhere, unless
we take special pains to pi'ocure or make it. Sulphate of ammonia
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 71
is manufactured from the ammoniacal liquor of gas works fi'om the
coal used in the manufacture of gas. If sulphuric acid is added to
this liquor, the sulphate will be formed, and some coals yield a
liquid which gives 14 oz. of sulphate to the gallon. Sulphate of
ammonia is much more valuable than sulphate of lime, as it con-
tains two important elements, sulphur and nitrogen. The nitrogen
being much more valuable than the lime. Besides, the animal and
vegetable sulphur compounds, fibrin, serum, white of eggs, casein,
etc., contain and require both sulphur and nitrogen. Here in the
sulphate of ammonia they exist, and in a salt highly soluble. The
simple chemical change required by the plant is to separate the
elements of water, hydrogen and oxygen, when the sulphur and
nitrogen are in a condition to pass into the compositon of its or-
This salt will probably be found in the markets of this State, see-
ing that many of the principal villages have gas works in their
suburbs, and may therefore furnish the ammoniacal liquid which
may be converted into the sulphate, or it maj- be used directly, after
being greatly diluted.
But sulphate of ammonia may be secured by all persons who
keep a stable. This is effected by means of gypsum. If this sub-
stance is sprinkled often over the floors of stables, as it should be,
it absorbs the ammonia exhaled from excrement of the animals.
The ammonia is mostly in the condition of a carbonate. When the
gypsum is used in a quantity sufficient to absorb all the escaping
ammonia, a large amount of the sulphate will be ultimately formed
among the excrements. The gypsum is decomposed by it, and car-
bonate of lime is the result as it regards the sulphate ot lime, and
the sulphuric acid goes over to the ammonia and forms sulphate of
ammonia. The advantages of this change are, the ammonia be-
comes fixed, it is no longer a volatile compound, and there is really
no loss attending any of the chemical ones involved in the pro-
The sulphate of ammonia, however, is quite soluble, and should
not be exposed to rains out of doors until it is applied to the soil
where it is wanted.
From the foregoing we learn several important uses to which
gypsum may be put, 1, As an absorbent of injurious and ofif'en-
sive odor, 2. The formation of an important salt — important,
T2 NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
because it contains the elements of blood and muscle. 3. It pre-
vents the destructive chemical changes which ammonia effects in
walls plastered with mortar. The lime of the mortar being changed
into a nitrate of lime bj the formation of nitric acid, which results
in the rnin of the plastering. Besides, coaches, harness, saddles,
etc., are injured by tlie escape of ammonia.
The positive economy, therefore, of supplying stables with
plaster is too evident to require comment.
Sulphate of ammonia costs in England, ready made, £16 per
ton. About one-ha]f cwt. is applied to the acre. It is applied to
soils which contain inactive vegetable matter, and it may be mixed
with wood aslies, bones, animal and vegetable manures; it may be
used as a top dressing to sickly crops, which it revives and regen-
§ 86. Sulphates of jpatash and soda are also important fertilizers.
The sulphate of soda (glauber salt) possesses a good degree of
activity, and is not expensive. It is used successfully upon grasses,
clover, green crops and the pea. Its quantity per acre is about
one and a half cwt,
SulfJiate of magnesia^ (epsom salts.) Its application to the crops
just mentioned is attended with satisfactor}'^ results. Magnesia is
an important element in all the grains ; and hence, where this earth
is deficient the sulphate is an elegant compound to be used as a
top dressing, for its supply.
§ 87. Sulphate of iron (copperas) is an astringent salt, and may
be used destructively to a crop. It is a poison, and yet in small
doses its use is beneficial to feeble crops, or to fruit trees. It
imparts a deeper green to the foliage and appears to give vigor to
unhealthy individuals. In these respects its action is similar to
that upon the human frame and constitution. It has been used in a
.weak solution as a top dressing to grass. Two beds of an acid sul-
phate of iron are known in this State, one in Edgecombe county,
the other in Halifax county, near Weldon. A spoonful applied to
a hill of corn kills it. To prepare it for use mix with marl. It is
by this agent converted into gypsum.
This substance in both cases occurs in a lignite bed, consisting
of stems, leaves, and trunks of trees. The organic matter has
combined in process of time with sulphate of iron. This, in its
turn, or when air has access to it, decomposes and furnishes the
• NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 73
salt in question, and where abundant, is important, provided marl
beds are accessible.
§ 88. Native phosphate of lime. — This mineral exists in large
quantities in New Jersey and New York. The most abundant
source of it is in Essex county, New York, in connexion or asso-
ciated with magnetic iron, M'here it forms in some part of the vein
from one-sixth to one-half its weight. It seems to be inexhaustible.
It may be separated from the iron by washing, or by magnets ;
both methods liave been pursued. It exists frequently also, in pri-
mary limestones, associated with hornblende, mica, felspar, etc.
The great source of phosphate of lime in the soils is probably the
granites and other allied rocks. It is present in lavas and other
igneous n^cks. But it is in minute particles, and rarely when it
exists in granite and other compounds is it visible, and is only
ascertained to be present by the most careful analysis of the rock.
Other sources of the native phosphate of lime are the sediments
which contain fossils. Most, if not all the fossiliferous limestones,
the mails of the secondary and tertiary divisions of rocks, furnish
it in per centages varying from one to two and a half per cent. In
the use of limestones and marls, therefore, as fertilizers, we obtain
this impoi'tant compound as phosphates.
Native phosphate of lime, or as it exists in soils, is quite insolu-
ble in pure water ; but for its solution carbonic acid is depended
upon in an uncultivated soil. When, however, the planter em-
ploys common salt, or salt of ammonia as fertilizers, he provides
in part for the solution of phosphate of lime. In sulphate of am-
monia, phospliate of lime dissolves as readily as gypsum in waterv
§ 89. In North-Carolina the principal source of it is in the marl-
region. We have never found it in the primary rocks nor associa-
ted with any of its iron ores, as in New York and New Jersey, nor
in tlie primary limestones of the mountain belt. The marls alii
contain it as an organic product, for in every living, being it isi
found botli in their hard and soft parts. It is principally in the
latter that it exists in the mai'ls. The value of the marls are in--
creased by its presence, and the striking effects of its use may ofV-
ten be attributed to small quantities of phosphate of lime. There^-
are frequently small, round, hard bodies in marl; bods, called coprfh
lites. which are often in sufficient quantities to pay for selection to
be employed in converting them into supeivphosphates by sulghu-
74 Nt)RTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
ric acid. They contain about 50 per cent, of phosphate of h'me.
They are hard, and but sh'ghtly acted npon by water and the at-
mosphere, and will tliei'efore remain like rocks, unclianged, and of
course benetlt the soM hut slightly. By the use of an equal weight
of sulphuric acid they may be converted into a valuable fertilizer.
They would require, however, to be broken into small pieces by a
hammer and frequently stirred. A portion would remain in pow-
der, in the form of gypsum. It may be treated like the ordinary
super-phosphate of lime made from bones. Super-phosphate of
lime is worth about thirty-iive dollars per ton.
The practice of burning bones for the purpose of pulverizing
them easily is not advisable; it is of course attended with the loss
of all the organic matter, and as we believe with effects greatly
§ 90. Carbonates. — The carbonates are the most common of min-
erals. At the head of the list stands carbonate of lime, known as
limestone or marble. Limestone may be known by its effervescing
with acids. It cannot be scratched by the nail, but readily by a
knife. Its colors are numerous — white, black, brown, flesh-colored,
together with shades and tints produced by the oxides of metals,
or a mixture of earth. When pure it is white and usually granular,
but many limestones of a palaeozoic and mesozoic age are compact.
The limestones which are regarded pure are composed of from
^Q to 98 per cent, of carbonate of lime. Its chemical constitution is :
Carbonic acid, 43.7
Certain limestones contain also magnesia, which are best known
amder the name of dolomites. A dolomite is composed of:
1 Carbonate of magnesia, 45.8
, Ciirbonate of lime, 54.2
When in a'ddltion to the magnesia limestones contain 2U per cent.
^f ferruginous clay, they form hydraulic limestones^ which furnish
aoiaaterial, when burned, having the property of becoming hard or
soli^ under water.
The XQ^p. marble applies to limestones which take a polish. 0th-
Gv lihiestosiite^ are desigjaated.'bjthe terms ai'gilaceousand ferrugiu-
NORTH-CAJIOLINA (tEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 75
ons or magnesian, according to the name of the substance which is
mixed witli the rock.
Limestone is nearly insohible in pure water, 1 gallon dissolving
only 2 grains, but when water is charged with carbonic acid it dis-
Limestone, when ground finely, might be applied to soils as a
fertilizer, but its solution is slow to act. In the form and condition
of marl, it is much more efficient.
Quicklime is sometimes important ; it is best adapted to stiff clay
soils, and is applied for the purpose of making them open and po-
rous. It has also a chemical action which undoubtedly lies at the
foundation of its mechanical effects, that of attacking the claj and
libtjrating potash or the alkalies.
Erroneous opinions have been entertained with respect to the
action of quicklime on animal and vegetable matter. Accordi!>^
to Dr. John Davy, quicklime, instead of promoting fermentatiou, ar-
rests it in vegetable matters, as peat for example, and as it regards
its action upon animal bodies, it only attacks the cuticle, nails and
hair, exerting no destructive influence upon the other tissues.
Mixed with peat and vegetable organic matter, it confers a ne-
cessary solubility, or rather, the probable action is the formation of
an organic salt of lime, w-hich is soluble. This view is sustained
by the fact that in the absence of organic matter, lime exerts no
perceptible effects. Quicklime should not be mixed with stable
manure, unless there is added at the same time gypsum,^ to absorb
the ammonia which the lime will be instrumental in dischar^rin^.
Peat, in a state of fineness, may be employed in the absence of
gypsum, as its absorbent powers are equally great.
The deficiency of limestone in this State is notorious. The moun-
tains and the region of the Yadkin are tolerably well provided for.
The midland counties, which take in a belt over one hundred miles
wide, are destitute of it. The lower counties supplj'' carixmate of
lime for agriculture in their marl beds, and might also quicklime
for building, white-washing, etc. The banks of the Neuse, 2() m.les
above Newbern, are well stocked with consolidated marl, well adap-
ted in composition for quicklime.
For more than a century, burnt lime has been used in England
for the benefit of the soil. It may be shown that potters and brick
clay, which are stiff and unyielding, contain potash and other alka-
76 NOBTH-CAKOLmA GEOLOGICAL SUKVET.
lies. Now, no plowing, hoeing, or mechanical operation can hasten
very materially the liberation of these important elements. No
mechanical means effect materially its condition ; chemically, they
are too slow. If we resort to the use of quicklime, in the fall spread-
ing it over the plowed field, and allow it to act through the winter,
the potash will be liberated and the whole field become porous.
§ 91. That form of carbonate of lime which is known as marl,
acts more efficiently as a fertilizer than the ordinary air slacked
lime. It is not simply a salt of lime alone, but a mixture of fine
carbonate of lime, phosphate of lime, magnesia, iron, and some or-
o-anic matter. Marl appears to be in a more favorable condition
than pure lime for an easy solution.
This substance, though it appears inert to the eye, still has to be
applied under the guidance of a few rules. It cannot be freely
used on poor soils; those, we mean, which are destitute of organic
matter. It being an absorbent of water, it is prone to act injuri-
ously upon a crop in dry weather, or to burn it. If on the contra-
ry, the quantity applied is proportionate to the organic matter, it
will form soluble combinations adapted to the wants of the crop.
There is no poisonous matter in the marl usually, and the proba-
bility is that when in large doses, as 600 bushels to the acre, it de-
prives the plant of water, being in itself one of the strongest ab-
sorbents of moisture known. Where sulphate of iron and alumina
are' present, this astringent salt being a poison, the plant is killed
by its chemical action upon its tissues. As marl is applied to the
surface and rarely buried by the plow deeply, it occupies a position
which commands all the moisture in a dry time.
To forestall the evils of a large application, it may be compos-ted
with peat, or any organic matter; it should always be prepared in
this way. But when an over dose has been applied, the most direct
mode of neutralizing its bad effects, is to plow it in deeply. It will
then become mixed with a large quantity of soil, and all the or-
ganic matter of it. It will probably be changed into a fertilizing
agent. As used in common cases in this State with the oi-dinary
depth of plowing, a large body of it must effect unfavorably the
whole surface, for there is only a few inches of soil for it to act
§ 92. The marls of North-Carolina are not rich in lime, but still
remarkable effects are obtained by their use. The following shows
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 77
the composition of a marl upon the plantation of Col. Clark, of
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 6.800
Carbonate of lime, 16.100
Sulphuric acid, 0.200
Soluble silica, 0.440
Phosphoric acid, 0.200
The complex nature of this marl is exhibited in this analysis ; it
shows that it is adapted to the wants of the vegetable in furnishing
as large a list of tliose elements which the ashes of plants usually
An eocene maH from the plantation of Benj. Biddle, Esq., of
Craven county, gave :
Carbonate of lime, 85.00
Peroxide of iron and alumina, containing phosphoric
Those marls which are thus rich in lime, are more liable to be
used in excess.
§ 93. The action of the carbonates upon vegetation is usually
attributed to the organic salts which are generated in the soil, as
the crenafces and apocrenates of lime, etc.; but in the formation
of these salts it may happen that carbonic acid is set free, and in
this condition becomes also a contributor of matter to the growing
plant. The carbon of the carbonic acid will be retained in the
plant, and the oxygen set free.
The action of marls, as a class of carbonates, upon soils is more
favorable in the long run than lime, except where quick lime upon
clays is required. The use of lime for many years has induced
complaints, whether justly or unjustly, is not perhaps fully settled ;
but it is charged with exhausting the soil, and like guano, of which
t8 NOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
we have spoken, the charge seems to be reasonable enough and to
rest on the same grounds.
If the charge is sustained, we can readily see by comparing the
composition of marl with common lime, that the former supplies a
much greater number of fertilizing elements than the latter;
indeed, it is probable that marls, like ashes, cantain the most
needful elements ; and hence, the annual application of marl i»
not likely to cause an exhaustion of the soil, because of the con-
stant additions made by its use. It rather ought to grow better
yearly ; for the cotton crop does not require, or does not remove
as many pounds of inorganic matter as there are applied. This
subject, however, we have not heard spoken of, and we have never
heard of injurious effects of marl which could by any means be
attributed to exhaustion, and we are confident from the natnre of
the facts bearing upon the subject, that where especially a compost
is made of the marl, it will continue for long periods to produce
Marl seems well adapted to all those crops where the product
sought is made up of cellular tissue, as the lint of cottor, the lint
of flax and hemp, the fruit, such as the apple, because lime is the
basis of cellular tissue. The phosphoric salts are required in the
cereals, the parts sought for must be rich in sulphur and phos-
phorus. These last are contained in stems, lint, bark, etc., in niuch
§ 94. Carbonates of potash and soda. — The lirst was anciently
called the vegetdble, and the latter the mineral alhali. Both, how-
ever, are derived from the mineral kingdom, but they are derived
for commercial purposes from the ashes of vegetables.
Pearlash is a carbonate of } otash ; it is the common substance
used in biscuit making, or short cake, though the bi-carbonate has
displaced the old or common carbonate. Neither of these substan-
ces have been used extensively in field agriculture. The latter
has become a favorite fertilizer for strawberries. Their composi-
tion and the fact of their occurrence in the ash of all plants, proves
their adaptation to crops. Their cost, however, for general and
extensive use, is the only draw-back to their application to corn,
wheat, potatoes, etc.
§ 95. Carbonate of ammonia is a white salt, with the pungent
odor of hartshorn. It exists in the ammoniacal liquids already no-
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVEY. 79
ticed, and is given off in stables in an impure state, or mixed with
the effluvia of animal matters. It is an active fertilizer. Its true
value, as in tiie case of other compounds of ammonia, is due to its
ability to furnish nitrogen to vegetation.
As it regards the compounds or salts of ammonia t'oi- wheat and
other corn ci'ops, it seems to be established that tliey are essential
to tlic increase of grain, beyond the natural pi-odnce of a soil, aided
by phoHpJiatic, fertilizers. The experiments of Mr. Ijiwes, of Hert-
fordshire, England, gave the following results:
APPLICATIOH PBE IMPEBIAI. ACRS. PKODUOE.
In grain. In straw.
1844. Super-phosphate of lime, 560 lbs., > ,„ Unshek 1 112 lbs
Silicate of potash, 220, ^ lb Dusneis. 1,11/ ids.
'"*"■ Mttt?'^''T,"''[ eachicwt, SHdo., 4,206 do.,
1846. Sulphate of ammonia, 2 cwt, 27 do., 2,244 do.
The increase by the salts of ammonia upon the lormer crop ma-
nured by super-phosphate of lime and silicate of potash, is a striking
result, and shows that the soil in order to reach ir- capacity for a
crop of cereals, requires, besides the phosphaft's, th(»se fertilizers
which can furnish nitrogen. It does not prove that phosphates can
be dispensed witli, but only that unless nitrogenous ijodies are ad-
ded the crop will be less.
§ 9G — Nitrates. — The union of nitric acid with a l)ase, as potash
and soda, constitute nitrates, a remarkable class of bodies. They
are all soluble and easily decomposed. When thrown upon glow-
ing coals they deflagrate, or burn energetically with flashes of
flanse and scintillation.
Nitrate of potash., saltpetre., niter. — Its manufacture illustrates
its formation in the soil. If the refuse of old buildings, irs mortar,
animal refuse, ashes, &c., are mixed in a heap and exjiosed to ihe
air and watered occasionally, especially with putrid ui-ine, they
become cliarged with nitrates of potash and soda. Whenever,
then, the cii'cumstances are favorable, these salts will be formed;
the animal matter furnishing the nitrogen which unites as it i? de-
veloped with oxygen. The elements of the nitrates are found
under houses, in caves, or wherever organic matter is mixed with
earth protected from rains.
80 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Both nitrates of potash and soda are highly esteemed in agricul-
ture, though the high price of saltpetre debars it from general
use. Its action upon young crops, when applied to them at the
rate of one cwt. per acre, is highly favorable. Trees, the sugar
cane and the grasses become fresh and green, and when combined
with the phosphates is one of the most important fertilizers, as it
contains in combination, the most important elements which the
crop demands — nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. Nitrates
increase the foliage of plants; and hence, for grass, or meadows,
they ai'e particularly and immediately serviceable.
The nitrate of soda, sometimes called soda-saltpetre, is a native
product of Peru and Chili, being formed in the earth in those sec-
tions where j-ain rarely falls.
§ 97. Chlorides. — The compounds consist of chlorine and a base,
as sodium, uniting directly, or without the previous union of the
base, with oxygen. The most common, and to the agriculturist the
most importaut, is salt, or the common table salt. It is a native
production in many countries, occurring in solid beds, which have
to be quarried like rock. The bed near Cracow, Poland, is sup-
posed to extend 500 miles, and is 1,200 feet thick. Salt springs
are common, but the ocean is the great reservoir of salt. It con-
tains about four ounces to the gallon of water. Salt has been and
is variously estimated as a fertilizer. It strengthens the straw of
the cereals, and is supposed to increase the weight of the grain.
It is more important in land, or at a distance from the sea, than
upon the shoves.
§ 98. Chloride of ammonia. — Sal ammoniac of the shops. Mu-
riate of ammonia. This well known salt has proved by experi-
ment, to exercise a beneficial influence upon crops. It is, however,
too expensive in its pure state, to be economically employed in ag-
riculture. A solution for steeping seed corn is recommended ; it
hastens gei-mination, and is supposed also to add to the luxuriance
of the crop.
§ 99. Silicates. —Ture silica, or pure flint is strictly an acid, but
it is so insoluble that under common circumstances its real charac-
ter is disguised. But put finely ground flints into a solution of
potash and the silica unites with the potash, and forms a soluble
silicate of potash. Silicates, then, are bodies constituted like other
salts, having a base united with soluble flint. The silica may be
NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 81
separated from its combination by the addition of an acid, and tbe
silica will form by itself a gelatinous mass, which is a silicic acid
with water. If this gelatinous mass is dried, the silica becomes
gritty and is really now what is called quartz, and is no longer
Now in the soil there is always a small quantity of soluble quartz,
and certain plants must have it in order to give strength to their
stems. All the cereals and grasses are furnished with this substance,
which is mainly deposited upon the outside ; which both protects
and strengthen the straw. ]t is not properly a nutriment, but in
the organization of the grass tribes it is an essential element ;
wherever the soil is deficient in soluble silica, the straw of the
grain is weak. The celebrated German Chemist, Liebig, proposed
the use of special manures, consisting of silicates mostly, as a
fertilizer for wheat, rye, oats, turnips, &c. His special manures,
however, have failed to meet the expectations of his friends. They
failed on the ground that mineral substance alone, and by itself, is
insufficient to supply the wants of vegetation. The failure has an
important bearing on our practical views, showing clearly enough
that organic matter is essential to plants. It does not prove that
what Liebig proposed was useless and unnecessary, but that he did
not go far enough ; he fell short of a sound theory by excluding
from his potent fertilizers vegetahle mattei^ from which the organic
acids are formed.
The silicates of rocks are not wholly insoluble, they are attacked
by water and carbonic acid, and by their joint action are dissolved.
It is by their action that the soil is furnished with soluble silicas.
That such a result is possible is shown by the action of rains and
carbonic acid upon window glass, while a silicate which becomes
gradually opake, especially in stables, where carbonic acid escapes.
Distilled water alone dissolves glass. The tumblers used in carbon-
ated spring water are coroded by carbonic acid
Straw furnishes silicates, when sftread over the surface of fields,
but, if burnt, the silica becomes insoluble. Hence, straw should
be applied without change. Its organic matter is also put to use.
Straw spread upon meadows for grass is an excellent application.
§ 100. Ashes contain a large number of fertilizing elements; in-
deed it may be presumed that whatever an ash contains performs
something in the economy of the vegetable which yields it.
83 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL 8UKVEY.
The ash of sea weeds is the kelp of commerce. It contains pot-
ash, soda, lime, silica, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, etc. The existence
of these elements in marine plants throws light on their action upon
Wood ashes contain, among other ihmg^^ pearlash, or carbonate
of potash. The composition of ashes depends upon the tree and
the part burned ; the bark furnishes an ash whose composition dif-
fers from that of the wood or the leaves.
The ash of the bark and wood of the white oak contains the fol-
SAPWOOD. BAKK. UEAETWOOD.
Potash' 13.41 0.25 9.68
Soda, 0.52 2.57 5.03
Sodium, 2.78 0.08 0.39
Chlorine 4.24 0.12 0.47
Sulphuric acid, 0.12 0.03 0.26
Phos. of peroxide of iron, lime and
magnesia, ...32.25 10.10 13.30
Carbonic acid, 8.95 29.80 19.29
Lime, 30.85 54.89 43.21
Magnesia, 0.36 0.20 0.25
Silica, 0.21 0.25 0.88
Soluble silica, 0.80 .25 0.30
Organic matter, 6.70 1.16 7.10
The tree furnishing the ash grew upon a clay soil rich in lime.
It will be observed that the bark is much richer in lime than the
wood, -while the wood is richer in phosphates; and tlie richest part
of the wood is that of the outside. The same result is shown in the
distribution of potash ; the outside wood contains more than the
heart wood, and in the bark it is reduced to a minimum quantityj
only 0.25 per cent. These are leading facts in the distribution of
the elements of growth in the vegetable kingdom, and we may feel
assured that it is not an accident that they are thus distributed.
It is probable that lime distributed to the outside is best adapted
to the protection of the vegetable tissues. The newest parts, as the
outside wood, derives a part of its elements from the inside, espe-
cially the phosphates, which are no doubt transfei-red by the circu-
lation. The law which has been already expressed, holds good in
all the correct analyses of the parts of trees; their distribution is
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 83
upward and outward, tending continually to the new parts whicli
are being developed.
§ 101. The ashes of peat differ in composition according to the
nature oi' the plant from which peat is formed. There will also be
changes in the composition of peat which is old, when compared
with a new growth of it.
The following analj^sis by Johnson, shows the general composi-
tion of peat ashes :
Chloride of sodium, 0.41
Phosphate of lime, 2.46
Sulphate of lime, 18.66
" magnesia, 1.68
Carbonate and silicate of magnesia, 6.32
" " potash and soda, 5.32
" alumina, 11.63
Insoluble matter, sand, &c., 7.94
Carb. acid, coal, etc., . , 10.85
In this sample the gypsum is much greater than usual, and the
silicate of alumina is foreign matter, as alumnia is never a true ash
§ 102. On reviewing the general principles which are set forth
in the preceding account of fertilizers, we may understand that it
is not suflticient to apply to the soil fertilizers in their simple state^
and at landom, provided the planter determines to derive from
them the greatest benefit. We are unable to increase their power,
but their elements of fertility may be preserved or prolonged by a
suitable management, which in reality would be equivalent to an
increase of power. The most active and valuable ones require the
most particular attention. Guano, for example, requires careful
manipulation, and when it is once determined how this volatile
compound is to be treated, it furnishes a rule for others whose com-
position is closely related to it.
Of the different fertilizers, we may arrange them into four
84: NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
In the first, we may place those which contain a notable per
centage of ammonia, in such a state of combination that it is freely
exhaled, or exists in a volatile condition.
In the second, tliose which by chemical changes form ammonia,
and which also become volatile.
In the third, we may place the fixed salts; and
In the fourth, those compounds which consist of carbonaceous
matters, and possess also the character of comparative stability
under ordinary conditions. The latter order is well adapted to a
general use with the preceding, either as an absorbent of the vol-
atile matter, especially ammonia, or with the salts, with which they
form combinations consisting of an oi'ganic acid and a mineral
The probability is that the best results are secured by mixing
our organic with the inorganic in every instance. By adopting
this course, the time when soils will begin to exhibit signs of ex-
haustion will be far in the future, or certainly postponed in-
The quantity or ratio of the inorganic elements in a plant may be increased by
cultivation. Source of nitrogen. Specific action of certain manures, particu-
larly salts. Farm j-ard manure never amiss. Use of phos. magnesia. Special
manure sometimes fails, as gypsum.
§ 103. While it is well established that the organs of plants
possess each their own component, inorganic elements, it is equally
well proved that their quantity may be increased or diminished by
modes of cultivation. The organs still maintain their diff'erenceB
in respect to the ratio of the component elements under any system
As an illustration of the changes which may be produced by
modes of cultivation, we may cite wheat. If, for example, it is
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 85
inannred with the ejecta of the cow, it furnishes a smaller propor-
tion of gluten than if manured with fertilizers richer in ammonia.
When manured as above, the berry contained 11.95 parts of gluten,
and 62.34 of starch. Wlien manured with human urine, which is
rich in the elements of ammonia, it yielded 35.1 of gluten ; nearly
three times as much as in the former case. Grluten determines the
weight of the grain, and, to a certain extent, its nse. Tiie flour,
which is suitable for the manufacture of maccaroni, must be rich
in gluten. Certain soils produce, without fertilizers, a heavy wheat
rich in gluten. This is a fact with the wheat of Stanly county, N. C,
which weighs 68 lbs. to the bushel, probably the heaviest wheat
ever sent to market.
§ 104. The important principle contained m the foregoing facts
liave a practical bearing; they determine the practicability of rais-
ing a crop adapted to a particular use, independent of the influence
of climate, and hence of increasing its value.
In relation to the subject of ammonia, much thought lias been
given, and many experiments made to settle the question of its
source. As nitrogen forms a large proportion of the atmosphere
it was natural to infer that the atmosphere might furnish this ele-
ment directly to the leaves or to some other part of the plant.
This view has not been adopted, and it is moreover well settled
that ammonia exists in the air in small quantities and is dissolved iii
rain water; it is also contained in fresh fallen snow, but notwith-
standing its presence in the atmosphere, it is essential to its recep-
tion in the plant to combine it with an organic acid, which nature
effects in the soil, which contains organic matter, in the condition
of acids, as the cerenic and apocrenic.
Certain other saline manures exercise a specific action upon
crops. Those of ammonia are, perhaps, the most general in their
effects; all crops continue to grow longer under the influence of
these salts, or continue in a i;rowing state until late in the season.
Nitrate of soda has a similar effect. "With respect to their applica-
tion to certain crops, which we wish to have ripened within a cer-
tain period, as tobacco^ for example, they would not be adapted to
it; it would cause the plant to continue growing until frost; it
would be in the unripened state, or only ripened in part; and hence
the tobacco would command only an inferior price in market.
86 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVKY.
§ 105. Certain salts promote the growtli in perfection of particu-
lar parts of vegetables. Thns when the straw of wheat or vyv is
weak, theory would lead to the use of the soluble silicates of lime
or potash, for the purpose of supplying the silex whore it is required.
The practice is attended with good results. When the ear is not
well tilled, the phosphates are resorted to, as it is here that this salt
is deposited in the greatest quantify. The leaves of the vine are
best developed by carbonate of potash ; and the phosphates again
develope or go to the fruit.
Other fertilizers seem to be adapted in certain conditions at least
to all crojjs. Farm-yard manure never comes amiss, provided it
has" been subjected to such physical and chemical changes whicli
the crop requires. It is not always proper to apply it fresh or in
the condition of long manure. Gypsum is specially adapted to the
growth of red clover, and ashes and marl will bi'ing up white clover
in places whore it had not been known to grow perhaps at all.
Phosphate of magnesia has been praised for potatoes, and the
super-phosphate of lime is the best dressing for turnips.
But even the foregoing well authenticated facts are somewliat
local ; for certain reasons not well ascertained, some of the striking
effects of these special I'csalts, do not occur in another section of the
country, or at least are far from being so striking It is never pos-
sible to predict the effects of gypsum on crops, though its proper-
ties must hold good everywhere ; that is, must always act as an
absorbent of ammonia and water, but still it is said to fail at times
as a fertilizer. In England it is not particularly praised, Avhile in
this country there are only a few districts wheie it is not attended
with benetit to the crop. jS^atural fertilizers, however, do not stand
alone in their failures. Those manufactured for a particular end
are found to fail frequently. Failures no doubt occur by a misap-
plication of the substance ; it may be given in excess aiul become
a destroyer. It may fail from an unfavorable season, and may also
fail from adulteration or for want of a natural purity in coniposi-
tion as a great excess of inert and valueless substance with which
it is intermixed.
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
On the periodical increase of the corn plant. The white flint, together with the
increase of leaves and other organs. The proportions of the inorganic elements
in the several parts of their composition. The quantitj' of inorganic matter
in an acre of corn and in each of its parts. Remarks upon the statistics of
§ 106. The changes which a plant undergoes during its period
of" growtli are woi'tliy of attention. For the puipose ot illustrating
the development uf vegetable organs, we have selected the Indian
corn or maize; and as the growtli of the foliage exhibits the views
we wish to bring out, we have tabulated the weekly increase of
the leaves in weight, and the amount of water thej contain, together
with the qnantit}' of ash the whole weight furnisheSo The obser-
vations begin in July and are continued until August 11 :
Weight in grains,
This table shows the rapid increase of weight in the leaves from
July 18 to August 4, after which the leaves rapidly lose their
weight, by supplying, no doubt, nutriment to the corn, which is
then tilling up. There is in most organs a growth which
attains its maximum at a certain period, when it seems to retro-
grade. This view, however, applies only to the subsidiary organs
Ail the energies of a plant are concentrated on the production and
pei'fection of seed. The stalks of corn increase in about the same
ratio as the leaves.
STALKS. TIMK: JULY5. JULY 12. JULY 18. JULY 24. AUG. 4. AUG. 11.
Weight in giaiiHS 100 1084 3041 5219 4597
Water, 92 987 2671 4)25 3832
Ash, 94 8 16.82 29.48 51.25
§ 107. The stalk attains its maximum growth between by tiie
4th and before tlw? ilth of August, and begins to yield up its nu-
triment to tlie ear, which is rapidly forming. By the 2od of the
88 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURViiY.
month, a week later, they weigh 2,237 only. In the selection of
specimens, ic was attempted to employ such as were equally ad-
vanced and of equal size, as possible.
§ 108. The increase in weight of the white flint corn during pe-
riods of one week and during the period embraced in the foregoing
observations, will be expressed in the following tables and remarks.
On the 28th of June the corn was 18 inches high, and had increas-
ed in height during the preceding week 7^ inches :
Average weight of each plant, 84.15 grs.,
Increase in weight, 62.05 "
July 5th, hight 26 inches; increase in hight, 8 inches:
Weight of one plant, 237.5 grs.,
Increase of weight during the week, 152.35 "
Average increase of one plant per daj% 21.76 "
July 12th, hight of plants 35 inches; increase 9 inches :
Weight of one plant, 861.9 grs.,
Increase per week, 432.7 "
" day, 61.81 "
July 19th, hight 43 inches; increase in hight 8 inches ;
Average weight of each plant, 875.48 grs.,
Increase during the week, 177.19 "
Increase per day, 25.31 "
July 26th, hight 49 inches; increase in hight 6, or one inch per
day : "
Average weight of each plant, . 2039. grs.,
Increase per week, 1191.6 "
Increase per day, 170.22 "
Increase per hour, 7.09 "
August 2d, hight 58 inches ; increase 9 inches :
Average weight of each plant, 3308. grs.
Increase in weight per week, 1269. "
Average per day, 181. "
I Average per hour, 7.55 "
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 89"
August 9th, hight 65 inches ; increase during the week 7 inches:
Average weight of each plant, 38.27 grs.,
Increase during the week, 286. "
Increase per day, 11.92 "
Increase per hour, .49 "
August 16th, average liight 72 inches; increase 7 inches:
Average weight of each plant, 6780 grs.,
Increase of weight during the week, 2953 "
Increase per day, 436 "
Increase per hour, 18.16 "
August 23rd, average increase in higlit of plants for the week
,76 inches ; increase in hight during the week 4 inches :
Average weight of each plant, 8170. grs.,
Increase in weight, 1389. "
Average per day, 198. "
** per hour, 8.27 "
August 30th, average hight 78 inches; increase in hight during
the week 2 inches :
Average weight of each plant, 10.580 grs.,
Increase during the week, 2.409 "
Increase per day, 344 "
" per hour, 14.34 "
September 6, average liight of each plant, 78 inches. No in-
crease in hight for the week:
Average weight of each plant, 12.917 grs.,
Increase during the week, ^ 2136. "
Increase of weight per day, 305. "
Increase of weight per hour, 12.72 "
On comparing the parts of the plant with each other at this
stage of growth, we find -they hold the following proportions to
NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL STJRVET.
Upper part of the stalk, 1128.8
Lower part of the stalk, 2084.
Eai stalks, 1217.
The composition of the ash of the leaves and sheaths at this
stage of growth is as follows :
iEATES. &HEATn8 AND HTTSKS.
Potash, 10.15 8.76
Soda, 22.13 19.68
Lime, 3.38 1.20
Magnesia, 2.38 2.02
Earthy and alkaline phosphates, 14.50 13.80
Carbonic acid, 3.50 4.14
Silicic acid, 36.27 38.10
Sulphuric acid, 5.84 6.36
Chlorine, 1.63 4.34
At a later period, that of October 18th, when the corn was npe^
the leaves and sheaths were composed of:
Potash, 8.33 7.48
Soda, 8.52 12.44
Lime, 4.51 2.13
Magnesia, 0.86 0.79
Phosphates, 6.85 9.75
Silicic acid, 58.65 51.25
Carbonic acid, 4.05 trace.
Sulphuric acid, 4.88 12.27
Chlorine 2.66 2.96
§ 109. The stalks of the period were composed of i
NORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 91
Pliosphates, , 16.1-5
Silicic acid, 12.8.5
Carbonic acid, .• 1.85
Sulphuric acid, 10.73
The phospliates of the loaves of the Octobei-'s growtli are less
than in those of September 6. The amonnt of the alkalies have
apparently diminished, though it is possible that comparisons maj
be fallacious, seeing that the results are obtained from the analysis;
of different plants, growing also on different hills, and may prove-
to be due to other causes than those connected with the distributioni
of inorganic matter by the influence of the organs. Our theory is,..
with respect to the distribution of the inorganic matter, that the
leaves furnish to the grain a part of their store, or that it i& transr'-
fei'red from the leaf to the grain.
The husks are composed of:
Magnesia, .,.. . . 0.(^7'
Silicic acid, 47.6©
Sulphuric acid, . . 6.6.7
Carbonic acid, trace.
For feeding stock, horses^ caws, etc-;, the advantages of ane organ
over the other are not very great, so far as the inoi'ganic matter is-
concerned. The silicic acid ©i: silica is -the greatest in the husks, .
w^iich may be regarded as the useless part ; but it happens that
the phospha'es are greater in the husks than the leaves at this •
stage ; but again, the potash, and soda are greatest in the leaves. .
In the sheath and leaves, taken at the same date, Sept. 6, there ■
are but slight differences ia composition in the two organs, leaf .
and husks. A comparisoa of the composition of the leaves and.
the grain of the. white flint corn of August 22 :
92 , NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Potnsh, 12.76 23.92
Soda, 8.51 22.59
Lime, 6.09 0.16
Magnesia, 1.25 2.41
Alkaline and earthy phosphates, 19.25 35.50
Silica, 50.55 9.50
Sulphuric acid, 4.18 4.38
Chlorine, 9.76 0.40
Tlie alkaline aiid earthy phosphates, potash and soda, exist in
large proportions in the grain, while the silica is reduced to a
niiniirnim, and is confined to the cuticle.
§ 110. Analysis of the grain and cob of the 8 rowed yellow corn
of the same ear :
Potash, 27.35 37.85
Soda, 5.79 1.83
Lime, trace. 0.24
Magnesia, trace. 0.53
Earthj^ and alkaline phosphates, 52.75 36.57
Chlorine, 4.10 2.95
Sulphuric acid, 3.48 9.20
Silex, 1.73 10.76
Per centage of ash, 62 . .40
As it regards tlie value of the cob for nutriment so far as its in-
organic matter is concerned, it is plain that it has a certain value
aiid should not be lost. Cob ashes are known to be rich in the al-
kalies even when guided only by taste ; but at this stage the potash
amounts to 37 per cent, ana the phosphates to 36 per cent, and tlie
silica to only ten per cent. But the per centage of ash is small in
the cob, scarcely amounting in any case to more than one-half of
one per cent.
§ 111. The husks of this variety of corn and which belong to the
eame stage of growth, are composed of:
Carb. of lime, 0.27
Phos. of lime, magnesia and iron, 29.43
NOKTH-CAKOLINA (^EOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Sulphuric acid, 11.11
Fj'oui observation and experiment it appears liiglilj probable,
that tiie 8 rowed yellow corn is one of the most valuable for feed-
ing } roperties. Its parts are all of them rich in inorganic matter.
§ 112. Upon an acre of corn we raise about 18,700 plants. These
plants will contain 46G.S0 lbs. of inorganic matter. This inorganic
matter will be distributed to the parts of plants in the following
Tassels, 64.239 grs.,
Stalks 525.525 "
Sheaths, 594.962 "
Leaves, 1.195.845 "
Silk.s, 25.284 "
Husks, 434.091 "
Cobs, 264.600 "
Grain, 480.690 "
3.585.036 grs.,=7468.82 oz.=466.801bs.
Of this quantity the leaves and sheaths will contain of:
Silica, 82.681 pounds, 39.667 pounds,
Earthy phosphates, 29.273 " 7.546
Lime, 9.400 " 1.581
Magnesia, 1.910 " 0.589
Potash, 19.704 " 5.571
Soda, 13.142 " 9.262
Chlorine, 15.072 " 2.202
Sulphuric acid, 6.461 " 8.928
The weiglit of the inorganic matter of the grain and cob will be
Earthy and alkaline phosphates, 22.187
Potash, , 14.950
Soda, , 14.118
^ NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Chlorine, 0.309 0.045
Sulphuric acid, 2.740 0.118
The stalks of one acre will contain :
Earthy phosphates, 10.362
Lime, J.... 1.928
Magnesia, 0. 640
Sulphuric acid, 7.382
§ 113. The several amounts of the inorganic elements will stand
as follows :
LBS. OZ. DECIMAL PAKTS OP AN OUNCE.
Earthy phosphates, etc., 93. 3.984
Lime, 13. 9.248
Magnesia, 5. 0.752
Sulphuric acid, 29.11.696
S 114. The foreffoino; statistics of the corn or maize elements
show that it is an exhausting crop. This is agreeable to the opin-
ions of the best informed farmers.
The maize crop is remarkable for bearing high culture Mnthont
danger of an excessive growth of stalk or leaves. In this respect
it is quite different from wheat or oats. The rich lands of the
eastern counties of North-Carolina produce great crops of maize,
but when wheat is put upon them, the crop consists of straw instead
of grain, M'hich is even of a poor quality, so far as it is produced.
Again, the foregoing statistics show the actual amount which
each part contains, and what it removes from the soil. An infer-
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURYEY. ^O
ence from all these facts is, that it is not sufficient to supply the
phosphates upon an exhausted soil to restore it to fertility ; the
quantity of potash, soda, etc., which may be and probably is com-
bined in part with silica, shows that the soluble silicates will be
required in the list of fertilizers. Plants require foliage elements,
as well as grain or seed elements j for undoubtedly the perfection
of the seed is dependent, in a great measure, upon the perfection
of the foliage. This precedes, or is developed first, and when we
iind it green and luxuriant, we predict a fine crop of grain.
Value of foliage for animal consumption depends upon the quantity of two differ-
ent classes of bodies: heat producing and flesh producing bodies. These two
classes are the proximate organic bodies, and are ready formed in the vegetable
organs. Proximate composition illustrated by two varieties of maize. Their
comparative value. Analysis of several other varieties of maize for the pur-
pose of illustrating difference of composition as well as their different values.
Composition of timothy, etc.
§ 115. The true value of foliage is determined from the quantity
of the proximate elements of certain organic products developed or
produced in the organs and seeds of many plants, particularly those
which are in common use for feeding animals. Of these elements
starch, sugar, gum, dextrine, gluten, legnmen, casein, albumen,
are the most important. The list is naturally divisible into two
classes. The four first form a class which have been called respira-
tory elements, and furnish the body with heat and fat; they are
destitute of of nitrogen. The remainder, of which gluten stands at
the head, are the flesh and strength producing elements, and are
known to contain nitrogen, and hence are sometimes called nitro-
genous elements. The first class meet a special want in the animal
economy, that of supplying it with heat, and when they are taken
in larger quantities than the system requires, they accumulate
around certain parts in the form of fat.
W^ NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
It is evident that as the economy of the animal system requires
not only heat but sti-ength and muscle or flesh, and as these are
furnished from plants in the lirst place, that any given plant is val-
uable for food in proportion to the quantity w^hich these two classes
of elements are contained in the vegetable or which it can furnish.
In order to determine the value of a plant, then, these difi'erent
classes and individuals of the class are separated or isolated from
their natural combinations, or in other words they are analyzed.
As an example we may take the composition of maize, which will
show the proximate composition of the grain. Its ultimate analj^-
sis would be, resolve the proximate bodies into the elements, car-
bon, oxygen, dydrogen and nitrogen. The proximate elements
exist ready formed in the grain, leaf or stem, and they are separa-
ted from the fibre or cellular tissue by water, alcohol, ether, weak
alkaline, solutions, etc. The grain, then, in its proximate elements
of ready formed bodies, contains:
S BOWED WHITE FLIST. WHITE KESXrCKT DENT COBN.
Starch, 57. 4Y 50.92
Oil, 2.55 0.64
Dextrine or gi3m, 4.01 3.08
Sugar and extractive, 13.21 13.80
Albumen, 2.27 4.44
Casein, 0.39 0.80
Gluten, 1.67 0.72
Fibre 6.07 9.70
Water, 11.46 12.22
The heat producing bodies in the two varieties are :
rUNT. KENTUCKT CORN.
Starch, 67.47 50.92
Oil, 2.55 0.64
Gum, 4.01 3.08
Sugar, 13.21 13.80
77.24 68.42 Heat and fat producing bodies.
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. W
"While the flesh producing are in the
FLINT COUN. KENTUCKY COKN.
Albumen, 2.27 4.44
Casein, 0.89 0.80
Gluten 1.67 0.72
In the Kentucky corn the flesh producing hodies exceed tliose in
To give another analysis of corn for the purpose of showing a
still greater difference in the varieties often cultivated, we select
the small blue corn used tor parching. It contains:
Sugar and extractive, 15.32
Gluten, 4. 78
Soluble in fibre by potash, 8.55
The line parching pi-operties of this corn are due to the large
quantity of oil present in the grain. Another variety of iwp corn,
the lady linger, contains nearly 7 per cent, of oil.
The sweet corn is still more remai-kable in its composition, thus
Dextrine or gum, 24.82
* Fibre is the hard stringy part of vegetables; it is wood or the fibre of flax;
cotton lint is the purest form of fibre ; bruise or beat wood or straw or grain, dis-
solve out by water, ether, alcohol and a weak solution of pearlash all that can be
and the part remaining is fibre ; it exists in the excrements of cattle and horses,
and forms much of their bulk.
03 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY,
Casein, 5. 84
The starch in this variety is reduced to a mini mnm qnantity, and
the gnm or dextrine is increased to the maxitnnm known in maize.
Tlie gura, no doubt, replaces in part the starcli, and it is this ele-
ment which causes the great shrinkage in the kernel, from which
we should very naturally infer that the corn was gathered in an
unripe condition. This, however, is not the fact. But the sweet
corn is eminent for its flesh producing elements when it is seen to
contain 14 per cent, of albumen and 5 per cent, of casein.
§ 116. The value of the corn leaf, or fodder, as it is called, is
more accui-ately ascertained by submitting it to an organic proxi-
mate analysis. When thus treated timothy and corn leaf are found
to be coin posed of:
TIMOTHT. CORN LEAF.
Fibre, 68.14 60.00
Wax, 2.80 undetermined.
Sugar extract and dextrine, 8.20 10.00
Albumen, 1.89 0.22
Casein, 2.34 1.60
Water, 12.30 10.17
The insoluble fibre makes the bulk of the leaf, and serves in the
animal economy to fill up space, or give a proper degree of tension
to the membranes. The albumen and casein ai-e nearly as large
in corn leaf as in the best of grasses. The red top, a favorite hay,
is composed of:
E.Ktvact and sugar, I). 00
Casein, « 1.80
Water, - 10.00
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. ' mf
§ 117. It will be observed that the insoluble matter, or fibre, in
the three kinds in the above examples, timothy, red top and corn
leaf, are really the same, or nearly so. All the other bodies, classed
as. n/iitritim and fat jproclucing ^ make up tlie remainder. They dif-
fer in quantity in these individual specimens, yet, it is probable,
that for feeding stock, as they generally grow, sometimes on ricli
and sometimes on poor soil, they cannot differ essentially. One,
in its general run, will support as much stock as the other, for it
will be observed that cultivation, or no cultivation, changes the
character of the crop. If, however, we compare the toregoing
compositions with another species, which grows naturally on a cold
wet soil we shall perceive a great difference.
For example, a cai'ex (a sw\amp grass) collected just before it
was to blossom was found to be composed of:
Casein, , trace.
Extract and sugar, 6.60
The greatest part of this grass is nnnutritious fibre, still it is not
deficient in albumen, but both classes of bodies are reduced to a
low per centage. We find less than 15 per cent, of the heat and
flesh producing bodies combined.
Composition of the common garden pea, rice and wheat, so far
as their proximate organic elements are concerned :
PKA. KICE. -WHEAT.
Water, 14 13 15
Starch, 42 70 42
Sugar and gum, 6 4 9
Nitrogenous substances, 24 7 15
Oil 2 1 2
Woody fibre, 9 4 15
Ash, 3 1 2
100 100 100
Rice contains a lai-ger amount of stalk than wheat or corn, but
in nitrogenous substances it is less than one-half of that in wheat,
and in the pea they exceed the rice more than three times.
100 NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Composition of tuberous plants with respect to their nutritive elements. Irish
potatoe. Sweet potatoe. Their nutritive values compared.
§ nS. The family of vegetables which rank next in nutritive
value to the cereals are the tuber bearing plants, potatoes, sweet
potatoes, turnips, etc. They owe their value mostly to the presence
of the same heat and flesh producing bodies as the grains. The
inorganic elements are the same as in the cereals and grasses, but
tlieir proportions differ somewhat from tliem. The asli of the mer-
cer potatoe, which is, in general repute, is composed of:
Earthy and alkaline phosphates, consisting of lime,
magnesia and iron, 39.50
Lime, ! 0.15
Sulphuric acid, 6.25
Carbonic acid trace.
A carious fact which we brought out in the analysis of the pota-
toes is the difference in the proportion of both water and ash of the
ends, and besides the rose end, if planted, will form potatoes earlier
than the heel end. They are composed of:
EOSF. END. HEEL END.
Water, 83.83 75.17
Dry matter, 16.16 24.82
Ash, 0.72 0.43
§ 119. The proximate organic analysis of the tuber of the mercer
gives us more information, as it regards its nutritions qualities. It
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 101
Fatty matter, 0.08
Sugar and extract, 3. 93
The water of the potatoe amounts to about 80 per cent. The
starch is less in this sample of mercer than in the earl_y Jnne, which
contains 13.37 per cent. As it regards flesh producing bodies all
the potatoes rank low.
§ 120. The follow ing analysis of the sweet potatoe will enable
the reader to compai-e it with the Irish as an article of food, partic-
ularly with regard to its flesh producing qualities. The ash is com-
_ • Silica, 1.8.5
Earthy and alkaline phosphates, 22.10
Carbonate of lime, 60
Sulphuric acid, 1.20
Carbonic acid, 15.72
The tuber co'itains:
Dry matter, 30.48
§ 121. The proximate organic analysis gave:
8WEET POTATOE. TURMPS,
Starch, 19.95 7
Sugar and extract, 5. SO 2
Fibre, ... 1.85 2
Matter dissolved by potash 2.10 ^
Albumen, 5.90}- li
Ca.sein, 1.03 J
A body that resembles balsam, 0.22 1 qH
Water, 96.56 86
102 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
The foregoing analyses serve to confirm or rather to agree with the
common opinion, that the sweet potatoes rank considerably higher
in the scale of nutriment than the Irish; they furnish more of the
flesli producing bodies ; they contain less water. Both are rich in
potash. The per centage of ash appears low, but in both it is ex-
tremel}'- fusible and difficult to obtain in a pure condition for weigli-
imr, as it is very liable to be caustic. The ash of tlie leaves and
stems is composed of:
Earthy phosphates, 28.57
Carbonate of lime, 15.00
_ Potash, 18.51
" Soda, 9.46
Sulphuric acid, 2.78
Per cent, of ash in leaves, 2.63
" " stems, 1.73
The sweet potatoe compared with the turnip used so largely for
fattening stock in England, is far superior in every point of view.
Composition of the ash of fruit trees; as the peach, apple, pear, Catavcba grape.
Amount of carbon or pure charcoal which some of the hard woods give by
ignition in closely covered crucibles.
§ 122. Persons who cultivate fruit trees may wish to know the
composition of the inorganic matter or ash M^Wch the different
parts furnish. The following analysis will fulfil in part, at least,
tlieii" wishes. The peach being a very important fruit tree in this
State, is selected from among many which have been made. The
ash of the parts of the peach is composed as follows:
NOKTH-CAEOLIlSrA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. lOi
Chlorine of sodium, 0.04
Sulphuric acid, 4.19
Lime, '. 42.17
Phosphate peroxide of iron, 0.45
Phosphate of lime, 9.79
Phosphate of magnesia, ... 0.51
In the foi-egoing analysis tlie carbonic acid M'as undetermined.
It appears from the analysis that sulphates, gypsum probablj^, will
liave good effects upon the peach tree. The loaves in a'nother
analysis made in July, gave:
Sulphuric acid, 4.42
Carbonic acid, 14.30
The pits of a peach are rich in lime, phosphate of lime and silica.
Lime must hold an important place as a fertilizer for the peach
tree, provided we attempt to fulfil the indications furnished by the
composition of leaves, wood and bark. The alkalies, potash and
soda, are also to be supplied. Ashes, however, will supply all its
§ 123. Composition of the leaves of the pear and apple tree at
the time when the flowers had just fallen :
APPLE TKEE LEAVES. PEAR TREE LEAVES.
Potash, 27.17 18.95
Soda, ' 11.83 15.19
Lime, 3.38 4.71
Magnesia, 2.74 4.50
Chlorine, 0.79 undetermined.
Phosphates, 26.60 25.05
104 NORTn-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Sulphuric acid, 10.12 undetermined.
Silica, 4.65 1.75
Carbonic acid, .... 55 11.56
Both the apple and pear leaves are rich in alkalies as well as
phosphates. Whether an analysis in September would furnish
similar results is donl)tfnl, as it is believed that there may be a
transference of these bodies to the matui'ing fruit.
§ 124. Analysis of the ash of the leaves of the Catawba grape,
irathered June 2d :
• Magnesia, 1.74
Sulphuric acid, ._. . .. ■. 2.09
Silica, 29 65
Carbonic acid, 3.05
Ash of the wood, .' 0.98
At this pei'iod of the year the leaf is rich in phosphates and
alkalies. It is well known that bones and alkalies are among the
best fertilizers for the vine.
§ 125. The ash of wood, it is shown, differs in the proportions of
organic matters. Thej- differ also, in quaiitity of carbon or char-
coal the wood furnishes. Thus, beech wood gives 17.16 per cent,
of charcoal. Deducting its ash, it leaves 16.94 as pure charcoal.
The iron wood gives 16.21. Deducting ash, it leaves 15.91.
The broad leaved laurel gives only 7.30; and deducting ash, 6.60.
The wood is very compact.
The chestnut gives 9.75; ash 9.27.
The v.-hite elm gives 15.84 per cent of coal, minus ash; leaves
The black birch gives 16.01 charcoal, minus ash, equals 15.96.
The pear tree has 9.79 per cent, of coal, and the apple 15.90;
abstracting the ash of the latter, it is reduced to 15.70.
Fi'oni the foregoing, it appears that the quantity of cai'bon or
coal which the hard woods furnish, rarely exceeds 17 per cent,, and
this is reduced bv extractinoj the ash.
NORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL STIRVEY. 105
Nitrogenous fertilizers most suitable for the cereals. Correlation of means and
ends which meet in fertilizers. The final end of nitrogenous bodies. The
power to store up or consume fertilizers modified by age, exercise and tempera-
ture. Error in cattle husbandry. Crops containing the largest amount of
nutriment. Weights of crops, etc. Indian corn and turnips. Sweet potatoes.
The produce of an acre of cabbage, etc. Cultivation of fruit trees — trimming
§ 126. As those substances are the most suitable for fertilizers,
especially for the cereals, which contain the most nitrogen, so, those
containing this element are the most suitable food for animals; and
as none of the cereals can be grown without this element, so ani-
mals cannot be sustained unless it forms a part of their food. There
is, therefore, a correlation of means and ends existing in the estab-
lished order of things between what plants and animals require for
sustenance. In the first case, it would seem that the nitrogenous
compounds are secondary necessities, while in the latter they are
primary, or have immediate reference to the characteristics of the
class of beings by whom they are required. They are more essen-
tially the force creating elements, and are designed to be expended
for this purpose, and never to accumulate beyond the creation of
the parts which are the seat of the force, while 'in the vegetable
kingdom they accumulate and are not consumed in the performance
of any of its functions. Gluten, a nitrogenous element, and starch,
a heat producing element, accumulate in the grain. There they
remain until on being received into the animal structure ; the lat-
ter is expended in developing heat, the former in motion or exer-
cise of the muscular organs.
§ 127. The final end, then, of furnishing nitrogenous bodies to
growing vegetables, is to supply necessities which the -nature and
construction of animals demand ; and herein is a broad distinction
between the two kingdoms — accumulation in one, waste in the other,
or a consumption of its own organs in animals, requiring therefore
'Constant renewal to supply the place of the wasted tissues which,
have been expended in the development of force.
In the animal economy the heat producing bodies, starchy gum,
•oUcmd suga/r, cannot be substituted for the flesh and .force produe-
106 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKV15T.
iiig bodies, gluten, albumen and fibrin or casein ; their functions
being totally different. A dog cannot live on pure starch or sugar ;
neither could his life be sustained on pure fibrin. There is always
a mixture of these bodies in all kinds of food as prepared by the
Wheat, Indian corn, rye, etc., have been shown to consist of a
number of elements belonging to each of the class whose functions
in the animal economy have been stated. Any of the cereals will
sustain life, as they furnish both heat and flesh. Rice contains less
of the flesh producing elements than wheat. Indian corn by itself
is probably the best life sustaining body of this class.
§ 128. The ability or power of the animal machine to consume
and store up elements is modified by exercise and age. The grow-
ing animal only accumulates as it is necessary ; it is a law that the
young should attain the size of the species ; so in passing from the
embryo to the adult state, consumption falls short of accumulation,
when the adult s'cate is attained accumulation is no longer necessary^
and the amount of food taken has to be adjusted to the preservation
of the balance between the food eaten and the forces which con-
sume it. Exercise increases consumption, a fact established by
numerous experiments made with healthy animals. This is an im-
portant consideration when applied to the fattening of animals.
"When they are allowed' to run at large and exercise at will, or even
subjected to such an amount ot exercise as may be required ta
feed, the accumulation of fat is slower, and the quantity of food is
lef^s, which is necessary to reach that state of obesity required for the
stall ; a larger amount of food is necessarily consumed than is essen-
tial to it when the animal is still and performs no more exercise
than health demands.
In illustration of the foregoing statement, it has been determined
by experiment that where 20 sheep were allowed to run at large
in an open field, they consumed 19 lbs. of turnips each day for 3
successive winter months ; they gained during the time of trial 512
pounds. Twenty other sheep kept for the same time in a shed,
and upon an average consumed 15 pounds of turnips per day, and
increased in weight t90 pounds. In addition to the turnips both
flocks were fed half a pound of linseed cake and half a pint of bar-
ley, but from inclination the enclosed flock consumed one-third less-
linseed cake than the out door flock. The increase in the confined
flock was greater, and also- the consumption of food less.
NORTH-CAKGLmA GEOLOGICAL SUKVEY. 107
Protection from cold weather is another way of increasing weiglit
by the use of less food. Those elements which ar^e burnt in the
system for the purpose of developing heat, must be provided in
larger quantities and proportionate to the severity of the cold to
which they are exposed. The starch, oil, sugar, etc., is consumed
for the generation of heat, which would be deposited in fat if the
medium in which they are placed were warmed or was protected
from extreme severities.
The natural adjustment, then, of food to the wants of the system
is influenced by age, exercise and temperature. The two latter
may be controlled by means both simple and cheap, so that both
food is saved and accumulations of fat deposited.
§ 129. The great error in this State in cattle husbandry is, the
practice of compelling animals to shirk for themselves both winter
and summer. So effectually do they consume all they eat in win-
ter to keep themselves warm, that when spring comes the}'' are
more than spring pooj\ and two months is required to get them up
to a living condition ; and it is rare that a fat animal is found or
made dnring summer and autumn.
There is, then, no doubt that shelter and food is required in ISTorth-
Carolina as well as in IN ew York, though the climate is mu3h more
favorable here for every purpose than in the north. The natural
food which is mostly the produce of old fields and the wood and
swatnp ranges, is far less nutritious than the cultivated vegetables;
more exercise is required to get it, and hence a greater amount of
expenditure of force is necessary. This, coupled with the fact of a
less nutritious food and exposure, accounts for the small size of the
stock of the Southern States.
f 130. It is an interesting enquiry, what crop or production con-
tains in itself, the largest amount of nutriment or life-snstaining
elements? In a question of this kind, it should be understood that
it is not simj ly albumen or gluten, the flesh producing bodies, which
are involved in the question, or the quantity of heat producing
bodies as starch, sugar and gum; for neither class of bodies is in
reality life sustaining by itself, but it relates to, or means to inquire,
what crop per acre contains that combination of the heat and flesh
producing bodies in the greatest quantity ? A good old Malthusian
would regard this as a question of the deepest import, and would
call to his aid the power of arithmetic and of the statistics of crops
to solve the question.
108 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
§ 131. To obtain a close approximate solution of this question^
it is. necessary to state the several weights of the crops which an
acre yields under good culture. An acre should yield, for example^
25 bushels of wheat, though large territories may not yield more
than 15 bushels; but an acre which will yield 25 bushels of wheat
will yield 60 bushels of corn — it is always competent to do this;.
but the reverse of this is not true, for swamp lands will readily pro-
duce the Indian corn, but not more than half the amouat of wheat
and of a poor quality.
If Indian corn is compared with the turnip, which is legarded in^
England as furnishing the greatest amount of life preserving ele-
ments, it will appear that in this respect it exceeds our favorite-
crop. It is assumed that a crop of turnips yield per acre 67,000
pounds, but only one-ninth of this is nutriment, the rest is water ;
there is, therefore, out of the 67,000 pounds only 8,444 of dry mat-
ter. The heat producing elements only equal 6,220 pounds, and
the flesh producing bodies amount to 1,000 pounds. The grain of
Indian corn contains in an acre 2,780 pounds of starch, oil, &c.^
which belong to the heat producing bodies, while the flesh produ-
cing amount to 840 pounds. If the grain only is taken into the
account, turnips rank higher than corn in their life sustaining pow-
er. But it may thus be that though turnips outweigh Indian corn,
it is not clear that in actual service this crop could by itself be em-
ployed for the human family ; it answers a good purpose as one of
our dishes, and gives a relish to a turkey or roast beef; no one
would like the process of being fattened exclusively upon turnips.
But Indian corn being susceptible of all kinds of treatment by ih&
cook, each one of which is generally relished, it is highly probable
that it should be placed highest in the scale as a life sustaining
§ 132. Of the root crops, though turnips in England are prefer-
red to all others for fattening cattle, yet they must rank far below
the sweet potatoe. The dry matter in the sweet potatoe amounts
to 30 per cent. It contains 19 per cent, of starch, 5 per cent, of
sugar, and nearly 1 per cent, of dextrine or gum. Its heat produ-
cing bodies in the aggregate amount to 25 per cent, at least. It
contains nearly 7 per cent, of flesh forming bodies. A crop of
sweet potatoes will weigh per acre about 30,000 pounds. The
quantity of starch, sugar, &c., will amount to 7,625 pounds, and
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOCJ-ICAL SUKVET. 109
the weight of the flesh producing elements amount to 2,100 pounds.
The life sustaining eleenents, therefore, in the sweet potatoes exeeed
those of the turnip, and would be preferred by far to them ; and if
the human family was reduced to the alternative of subsisting upon
a single product, the sweet potatoe would do, because, like Indian
corn, it may be cooked in various modes and made to suit the pal-
ate, which is by no means to be lost sight of. But the turnip has
too much water, is too insipid for daily use by itself, and could not
be employed alone as a life sustaining substance, notwithstanding
its rank. It takes rank because of the immense weight of a crop
upon an acre. Taken pound for pound and it ranks low in the scale
of nutrients. A person would have to consume 3 pounds of turnips
to obtain the nutrient matter of one pound of the sweet potatoe, if
our estimate is founded upon the quantity of dry matter which they
respectively contain. In the Indiaii corn there is about 14 per
cont. water ; by the most thorough drying it amounts to 16. The
remainder is important as a nutrient, taking the word in its broad-
We are aware that Johnson's doctrine is somewhat different. He
maintains in his scale of heat producing elements that the turnip
will support eight times as many men upon the same acre as wheat.
On the other hand, when they are estimated for flesh forming qual-
ities, turnips will support four times as many men as wheat, Indian
corn, or barley.
Cabbage, however, it is admitted, ranks higher than turnips in
its flesh forming elements. The Irish and the negro population
seem to understand this ; the former particularly, purchase in mar-
ket a cabbage, if it is to be found.
§ 133. The produce of an acre of cabbage amounts to 242 ton&
if their heads average 10 pounds each. Of this quantity 20.2 tons
is water and 4 is dry cabbage, of which a ton will contain 324
pounds of nitrogenous matter. A ton contains 18 pounds of inor-
ganic matter, but if the substance is perfectly dry, it contains 153.9'
pounds. The problem to be solved, however, is not the power of
the different kinds of substances to sustain life by their actual
amounts of heat or flesh producing elements which they contain-
It does not seem to be intended that either man or beast should
subsist upon one kind of food. The appetite is never satisfied with
one or two things even, — it seeks variety ; and when variety is at-
no NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
tainable, the strength for labor and the enjoyment of health attains
its maximum power. '
Turnips and cabbage are important articles in the list of nutri-
ments; and although they may contain more nitrogenous matter
than wheat or corn, yet few persons would make them their exclu-
sive meat and drink, unless driven by necessity so to do; and if
necessity compelled men to take them, the power to work and en-
dure fatigue would be diminished, while Indian corn, wheat, or
even sweet potatoes, though the}'' contain less nitrogenous matter,
would supply the wants of the system much better.
§ 134. It is maintained, and the fact should be noticed in this
connexion, that root crops, particularly the turnip, are to be spe-
cially recommended for cultivation as they impoverish the land
less. Let us look, however, at the facts. A good turnip crop weighs
to the acre 67,000 pounds, and its inorganic matter or salts amount
to 450 pounds to the aci-e, while wheat has only about 60 pounds
in the 25 bushels. Cabbage takes away about 600 according to
Johnson, but this is rather to little for dry cabbage; it amounts to
€15.3i pounds. Gre«n cabbage contains only 18 pounds to the ton.
When we consider, then, the great weight of a good crop of turnips
or cabbage, it will be admitted, we believe, that the}'' are really
more exhausting than the cereals. It makes no difference in the
final results if it is proved that the root crop derive a large share of
their nutriment from them ; they must obtain inorganic matter from
the soil in due proportion, and experiment proves that they remove
more from the soil than other crops. This is not stated with a view
to discourage the raising of roots. They have their place in feed-
ing animals in the winter and spring when the green grasses can-
Eot be had. But they should not be selected for cultivation on the
erroneous doctrine that they do not impoverish the soil, or to less
amount than the cereals and many other crops.
§ 135. Our remarks thus far have related to the cereals and those
crops which are designed for the sustenance of man, or rather the
character of the elements which he constantly employs.
We have another class of nutrients in fruits, which are of vast im-
portance. Their cultivation is every where, we may say, receiving
special attention, but many work on the old doctrine that a fruit
tree or vine will provide for itself, if it is once fairly planted and
watered a few times. It lives and may be it flourishes a few years,
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEYEY. Ill
but in process of time it ceases to grow, and its fruit fails in quan-
tity and quality. In such a result the planter is very apt to say
that the climate is unsuitable for its growth.
But let us briefly inculcate the true doctrine relative to trees.
They require fertilizers as well as the cereals, and most of the fruits
are injured by heavy grass culture, and especially by corn. The
reason is they are robbed of food. Roots extend much farther than
many suppose; hence the deep plowing at a distance from the irunk
breaks up the rootlets and cuts off the channels through which nu-
triment ordinarily flows. Thrifty and profltable trees are made in
this way only, that of «upplying that variety of nutriment which
any farmer knows his wheat or corn requires. The mode which
should be followed in applying it, is to broadcast it over the sur-
face, and which should extend beyond the shade of the branches.
Yery few rootlets for the support of the tree are thrown out, ordi-
narily, near the trunk. It is of little use again to trench around
the tree and deposit in the cut manure — it is far better to give the
whole surface of an orchard dressings of composted manure. Such
a course favors the development of rootlets, and the nutrient mat-
ter is carried down to them in that dilute condition which their
spongioles require ; and lastly, trees require clean culture, the re-
moval of all weeds beneath, and suckers which sprout from the
base of the trunk.
§ 136. Many trim their trees outrageously by cutting the lowest
large branches; the consequence is the production of a high, slim-
headed tree of little value. The growth of the apple tree is upper-
ward and ]iarrow, with only a slight tendency to spread or expand
latterally. Tiiis mode of trimming the tree increases the upward
growth, and hence, a very imperfect head is formed by the lateral
extension of the side branches. Trees thus mutilated always
remain cripples, if the word can be a]>plied to trees. Even peach
trees in North-Carolina are deprived of their best bearing branches.
In addition to the injury sustained directly as fruit-bearing trees,,
their trunks are also exposed to the heat of the sun, which blast&
the south or south-western sides, in consequence of being deprived
in part, at least, of the shading which they require from the
In regard to vines, we beliere the European mode of close trim-
ming not well adapted to the cultivation of our native graves. It
112 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
is unnatural, and not really required by our climate. It is true,
the Catawba, under the knife and sheare of foreign cnlturists,
have survived thus far their mutilations; but this fact rather
proves their life tenacity and natural recuperative powers under
injury, than the utility of the practice. What the human system
may endure under physic is one thing; what it requires, and is
necessary for perfect health and developement, is another.
In our southern climate, protection from a burning sun on the
side exposed from noon till five, is one of the most important
points to be attended to, and probably it is equally necessary in
the growth of young orchards and vinerieS to protect the roots
during the heat and drouth of summer by mulching. The object
is to preserve the water of the soil, or prevent its excessive evapo-
ration by organic matters, which are the most retentive of moisture
of ail bodies which can be employed for this purpose.
}i[ORTH-CAROLIM GEOLOGICAL SURVEY,
OONTAINING DESCKIPTIONS, WITH MANY
ANALYSES, OF THE SOILS OF THE
W, HOLDEN, PRINTER TO .THE STATE.
The Swamp lands of North Carolina seemed to require a special
examination in consequence of their variable characters and their
great extent of surface. Differing in all respects from the uplands
but possessing among themselves certain characters in common
and at the same time as badies of land other characters, which
are not common, we have entertained the opinion that thej richly
deserved a careful examination, and have been encouraged to
undertake it in the hope that it would result in the discovery of
many important facts. Such a result has been hoped for by the
fact that other State surveys, as well as those which have been
undertaken by private enterprise, have left this field untouched.
Viewing the subject in its most general points, before the work
was undertaken, it seemed that the most important questions re-
quiring solution were those which related to the condition and
state of the elements which compose these soils, their relative and
absolute quantities, and their prospective powers of endurance
when brought into cultivation ; the latter of which would be de-
termined, or at least indicated, by the per centages which analyses
would give. These are some of the views which have governed
us in the choice of measures we adopted in executing the task, and
which have also incited us to the undertaking. As we had already
■determined from several analyses that there were varieties of soil
included under the general term swamp lands^ though they have
the same aspect and appear much alike, and yet were found to be
unlike the best lands under this class ; so we felt that it was im-
portant to be able to point out those particulars in which they
differed. This is not at all diflScult when subjected to laboratory
tests, but it would be still more useful to point out some method
which could be executed by the planter, and upon which he could
rely, at least so far as to distinguish thereby the poor soils from the
The method proposed i& simply a mechanical separation of parts
hj means of water, and by which the coarse sands may be obtained
separately from the fine, the latter of which are really the important
inorganic parts, and which give in analysis the lime, iron, alnminaj.
phosphates^ magnesia, etc. These complex elements, which furnish
these important nutritive or available elements differ in different
localities and in different parts of the same tracts, facts which are
explained in the text. In some they are reduced to 2.50, or 3 to
4 per cent., when in other parts perhaps of the same tract they
exist in proportions varying from 10 to 50 per cent.
By a mechanical separation in the mode we have described^ a
planter may determine these important facts for himself with suf-
Hcient accuracy to guide him in his purposes, for it is an established
principle, that when the inorganic matter does not exceed 3, 4, or
5 per cent., the land will not produce well. If, however,, this small
per centage exists only in a top layer, and at a depth of 18 inches
or so, there is a stratum charged with a larger per centago, say 10
to 16 per cent, of inorganic matter in which the fine soil exists^
the land may be cultivated successfully ; if, however, a stratum of
this kind is 5 or 6 feet below, or we have a mass of this thickness
composed almost exclusively of vegetable matter^ the plant will be
unable to send its roots thus far, for it will perish too soon to secure
a foothold on life, just as it would in a bed of marl, or a heap of
The Carteret county open prairie has been re-examined, and we
find a more favorable composition of its soil than at a previous
visit. Drainage of a tract has effected a shrinkage of the vegeta-
ble matter so much that a stratum of soil may be reached by the
roots of crops. The tract, in its poorest constitution, is by no-
means to be ranked with a first class swamp soil. I have stated
that there is a belt of excellent land surrounding the open prairie.
But though the open prairie is not well adapted to the growth of
the cereals, yet for Irish potatoes it is admirably constituted, and it is
iiot improbable but that an enterprising man would make money
by their cultivation. But I have stated the principal facts in their
proper places, and need only refer to them in this place.
The labor required in the analysis of so many specimens has
been exceedingly great. The work has been in hand more than two
years. My assistants have been employed with me in the woffk
when in town and vrhen out door work was impossible or could not
be prosecuted to advantage. We have no doubt that much more
should be undertaken, the results of which would be anvantageoua
to the State, at least indirectly. It is highly important that lands
so fertile should be brought into cultivation, and we have no- doubt
that large tracts which are classified under the term, svjamj) landSy
are to become the best in the State for the growth of cotton. The
great want which is felt is the construction of roads by which
these lands may be reached and brought into market. We have
no hesitation in saying that the two millions of acres of swamp
lauds are worth four millions of upland. In a rough estimate of
this kind, we take time and expense of cultivation into the account —
the time these lands endure without the use of expensive fertili-
zers, and the ease and the slight wear and tear of the instruments
used in cultiration, when compared in the sam® list of expenses
required in the cultivation of the uplands of the middle counties.
However this may be, our aim has been to place the merits of
these lands in their true light; not to exaggerate or depreciate.
If this aim has been secured we shall be satisfied with the resii-ltg-..
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The compensations which take place in nature and by which a balance of forces
is preserved. Considerations relating to water. Water surfaces. Evaporation
regulated by saline njatters in the ocean. Carbon and carbonic acid. Insolu-
bility of vegetable matter a conservative condition. Average fall of rain.
The UTILITY resulting from tVie analysis of soils. Methods pursued. IT — 23.
The swamp lands. Their mode of formation and geological age. 23 — 26.
Geographical position of the swamp lands, and their extent in North-Carolina.
Defective information in the public archives of the State. The Savannah
lands, etc. 26—28.
Temperature of soils. Distribution and circulation of heat. 28 — 32.
Swamp lands divided into six districts. The Dismal swamp district has not
been explored. Diversity of composition of these lands. Elevated in the
Composition of swamp lands stated. Hyde county. Natural crop is Indian
corn. Number of plants to the acre. Quantity raised. 35 — i9.
Position of Plymouth. Quality of soils indicated by the growth of timber. Cost
ot drainage. Composition of four specimens of soil from the south side of
Albemarle sound. Mechanical separation of elements, etc. 50 — 57.
The Pungo tract. Gen. Blount's plantation. General description of this part of
the Albemarle swamp, with its natural growth of timber. Depth and compo-
sition of the soils of this section of the swamp. Mechanical separation of the
parts of the soil. How the poor soils of this class may be improved. Tyrrell
county. The centre of the Albemarle tract highest in the centre. 57 — 65.
VUl TABLE OF CONTENTS-
Bay river District, composition of its soil. The 4th district of Swamp lands.
The open prairie of Carteret county, composition of its soils. Change effected
by drainage. Inorganic matter increases with the depth of soil. 65 — 74.
Composition of soils towards Beaufort. Composition of Mr. Sefton's swamp
land. Adams creek soils, Craven county. Dover swamp Craven county-
Its hight above Newbern. Composition of its soil. 75 — 80.
Swamp lands of New Hanover and Brunswick counties, their composition with
Gall berry lands, and their composition. The Savannah lands and their charac-
teristics and composition. 87 — 91.
iContaining brief descriptions of the Mineral Springs and well waters which
.©ocur in and about Raleigh, 92 — 95.
SURVEY OF NORTH-CAROLIM.
May, 1860. E. Emmons.
The compensafietis which take place in nature and by whiihabalance of forces
is preserved. Considerations relating to water. Water surfaces. Evapora-
tion regulated by saline matters in the ocean. Carbon and carbonic acid. In-
solubility of vegetable matter a conservative condition. Average fall of rain.
§ 1. Rational farming rests on compensations, and has to be
conducted in accordance with the known laws of nature. If, in any
part of space the balance of the forces is about to be lost, there
will immediately set in counteracting forces to restore the balance
which is thus endangered. The machinery of nature is so construct-
ed, or under the government of such forces, that a balance is pre-
served among them. Heat rarefies the air, and it rises in space, but
its place is immediately supplied from the surrounding. cooler atmos-
phere. The great body of it may be moved over extensive areas,
and when it has been subjected to excessive heat, the balance
must be restored by winds and forces acting with a violence pro-
portioned to the causes of disturbance. The evaporation of water
from the soil is in part, and for a time, .restored from the reservoir
below. When, however, solid matters are removed from the soil
by cultivation, the balance can be restored only by the hand of
man. Even water has to be provided in certain countries by irri-
gation. But in the general operations of the natural forces, ample
provision is made for supplying water, ammonia and carbonic acid
to all ^parts of the earth's surface. If no provisions existed in the
10 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
machinery of nature to effect a general distribution of these im-
portant elements, the earth's surface would be a barren waste.
Irrigation can only supply water under favorable circumstances.
The great reservoirs of water for watering the earth are the oceans.
Let us see how the machinery works when it is furnishing the
supplies which vegetation every where requires. In the first place,
it is necessary lo know that the area which is to be watered must
be rightly proportioned to that from which the supply is to come,
and this supply is derived from the water surfaces provided for the
purpose. Now, the Atlantic ocean has an area of twenty-five mil-
lions of square miles, and the Pacific of seventy millions. These
are the two great water surfaces upon which an earths surface of
thirty-five millions of square miles is dependant for a constant sup-
ply of this element. Now, it is a necessary part of the arrange-
ment, that water should pass from the state of water to alight
vapor, at all temperatures. Water has this ]>roperty, though we
connect its vaporous state with its boiling condition, when its tem-
perature is raised to 212° of Fah. But at this temperature we
fihd that the heat it receives is just balanced by its apparent loss
or by latent heat in the vapor as it escapes. While heating up to
2i2° its iaccession of heat is greater than the loss locked up in
'ira|)6r, Mid hence, continues to accumulate, or to grow hotter, till
lifreaches this point. If vapor was not formed till water boiled,
oritideed, if hot formed at all temperatures, the earth would be
'^^ 'Water then exposed to the atmosphere at all temperatures gets
'^ftffieiiehtiieat to' change it into vapor. It is water still, but its par-
ti%lfe& are so widely separated by heat or expanded that if seen, it
^■^'intst^n cldudydr may he steam. Its expansion lifts it above
■th^ water surfaSe, biit this is not all ; the heat which has thus gen-
"^f^^ied "i^iipbi', ci'eates ;also currents, moving air, or wind; and wind
ii'tlie trah'sporting'^gent by which vapor is borne landward. It
^'6eps'6vel' viast area^, reaches the mountain ranges, and upon
^very object, tre^!,'stofte or land, which is cooler than the vapor
•ifsfel^''-Tt'3%)6sitg^!i<j!)al¥'d^^^ burthen. This is especially the case
"4Fit''^wt:6'ji^'Wp'"1;iye'7i^Sihf side, if it is tall and reaches the re-
■^ion of frost, it is eh'tirely disburthened of its load. It is here, how-
W^rj- WH'eifife'^fi^aiiik' find n vers are formed and from whence they
•^iM''k^^^M, feSi^ij^iti^'Ba'dk to the parent bosom every atom which
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 11
the sea had loaned. Should but a few atoms be lost in the outward
or homeward journeys, the sea would fail to be kept full, and in
process of time it would be dried up. Every atom is therefore sent
back, and thereby the balance of nature is preserved. Water en-
dowed as it is, must circulate and supply the earth, and its people
with itself A counteracting law would be required to arrest its
service. Our safety, however, for a supply rests mainly on the
ease with which the loaded winds discharge their "argoes. If they
were more niggardly, and held on to their possession with a miser-
ly grasp, the poor plains and rollii.g hills would be swindled out
of their dues; and none but the snow clad mountain could extract
the liquid treasure.
Nature then has provided a machinery for the distribution of
water which works perfectly. The farmer may sit in his parlor
and see its operations. He needs no watering cart to supply his
crops like those used to lay the dust of the streets of cities. Such
would be too expensive and cumbersome and would utterly fail.
Compensation is the law. If the mountains, hills, and plains are
irrigated by the forces of nature, ample provision is made for the
return of the element to its parent bosom to be re-used and so work
on as long as seed time and harvests shall continue. ISTow water
how many times soever it takes its round of circulation never wears-
out, and it has been found, that a given area of land gets punctual-
ly its annual share; and those countries which are deprived of
rains or water in its usual form, ever remain in this condition.
This stability is due to the uniformities in the operation of forces.
The winds, unstable proverbially, are still under the government
of law, and hence, as carriers of rain, and distributors of the ele-
ments essential to the growth of plants, perform their offices sa
punctually and regularly that the kingdoms of nature rarely suffer
from their failure to perform their office. But it seems to us at the
Urst thought, that as three-fourths of the world has to be laid un-
der water so that the other fourth may be supplied with this ele-
ment that nature has been too lavish in its supply of evaporating
surfaces. We are however, forced to admit the fact after we have
found that it is rare that it is any where in excess. It is true that
a few limited patches of land in India, where according to observa-
tions not less than 600 inches of rain fall during the year, a quanti-
ty which if furnished at one tinie would cover the country with a.
12 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVICY.
depth of 50 feet. Here there appears to be be a great excess of
this element. As an offset however, to such excessive installments
of rain, we have several rainless districts, as Peru. Chili and the
Sahara of Africa, and hence it is probable that the average quanti-
ty of rain for the whole acreage of land, would scarcely exceed 50
inches; and hence, in the general operations of nature, there is
only a sufficient water surface to supply the rains which are neces-
sary to the vegetable and animal kingdoms.
The annual fall of rain at Chapel Hill is 43.96 inches. At Gas-
ton 40.83 inches, and at Murfreesborough 82.54 inches. There is
no excess of rain it would seem from the few observations to which
we can gain access in the Eastern counties.
We have said that all the water which the Oceans loaned from
their exchequers is returned in due time, not, it is true, in the same
individual particles, for the Atlantic furnishes water to the Pacific,
and there is no doubt a mutual interchange, but each gets its quota
and thereby keeps its coffers filled.
But rivers, though they return all the water required, they do
not return it in the pure, unsophisticated state it was when it set
out on its journey borne by winds to the mountains. On its re-
turn it is burthened with salts of various kinds. It robs the soil
every where of its matter which we call fertilizing. Is it a trespass
upon the plantation through which the rivulet flows, a robery of
which the farmer has a right to complain ? In general, it is not.
In a few particulars it may be. We think the Roanoke should
cease plundering the upper country, but in general, we may say,
it is a necessary tithe to the parent waters. It is necessary to en-
able these great bodies of waters to fulfil their functions to earth
and man, to the kingdoms of nature.
Accojding to Maury, the Philosopher of the Sea, these saline
matters serve to keep the sea in motion ; they bring particles at the
tpp losing their proportion of fresh water, become more saline and
heavier, and sink to be replaced by particles moving upwards.
But when the evaporating forces act upon large surfaces under a
vertical sun, the excess of fresh water removed is so great that a
dimple in the. surface of the sea is formed whereby the outer boun-
daries rush in to filli^p the excavation. But saline matter in the
sea retards evaporation,; it becomes a check upon Eolus or any
wind which would perhaps take too much at a time, and thereby
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
unnecessarily drench a part of the earth. Saline matter, therefore,
checks evaporation, and as fresh water floats upon the surface and
may be evaporates rapidly for a time, the process will be interrup-
ted when a more saline layer is reached ; moderation is thereby
§ 2. But it may be inquired, what consequences are likely to
follow from a constant access of saline matter in the ocean ? "Will it
become surcharged by evaporation, and will it become too saline
for terrestial veo-etation ? Such would be the case were it not that
the forces of nature tend here as elsewhere to balance each other.
The sea is like a great peopled city. There are builders there who
want matter for their habitations. There is the coral insect who
builds reefs extending for a thousand miles in a continuous line ;
there are oysters, clams, and myriads of shell fish as they are
called, who use vast quantities of lime and oth-er materials. We
have seen that the great depths af the sea are sanded with minute
shells of foraminifera. All these builders conspire to keep the sea
well balanced and cleared of excess of saline matter, and there will
be no excess, because it is solidified by the organisms prepared
for the purpose ; and such has been the operations of life, in all
past time ; the older rocks are charged with marine organisms, and
the newer are equally so, and it is in this way the planter is pro-
vided with marl and other fertilizers, deposited where the sea once
stood. He now reaps the benefits of the saline matter which was
robbed from the land millions of years ago. It is now returned
back for his use in a better form and state. But the salt of the sea
would form a huge pile if gathered into one heap. Shafhautl has
computed, that the mineral matter suspended in the ocean, is
equal to twice the bulk of the Himalayas. It is even said that
there is common salt enough in the ocean, to cover an area of seven
millions of square miles to the depth of one mile. We have rea-
son to believe this immense amount of saline matter has been tak-
en from the land since rivers have flowed seaward, though it is not
fully settled, neither can it be ; whether the ocean wrs created
brackish, or was originally fresh water like our rivers, the opera
tions of nature have not fully declared either in the afhrmative or
§ 3. The swamp lands of ISTorth-Carolina and of the Atlantic
coast, contain a vast amount of carbon. The vegetable matter is
M: NOKTH-OAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVEY.
often more than 10 feet deep ; and sometimes it is not easily
sounded by the longest poles we can nse. The quantity of organic
matter, mostly carbon in some form, varies from one-half to ninety-
five hundreths of the dry mass.
Whence has this vast quantity of carbon been derived ? ISTow
the answer to this question does not appear to be difficult. In the
first place all of it was once alive, and it all consists of the remains
of vegetables whose constituent element is carbon. iNow the
foundation of this carbonaceous body generally rests on a pure sand,
or a mixture of sand and clay ; in a great measure is entirely
destitute of carbon or vegetable matter, and hence we may assume
that the original soil did not contain this element and could not
supply it. We are, therefore, obliged to look for a supply to the
atmosphere as has already been indicated in a former treatise.
It may be interesting to see the computations which have been
made with respect to the quantity of carbon in the atmosphere in
combination with oxj^gen, forming carbonic acid. Thus the whole
weight of the atmosphere being known, it has been determined
with great accuracy that its carbonic acid forms one thousandth of
this weight, and as carbonic acid contains twenty-seven per cent,
of carbon, the atmosphere will contain three thousand and eighty-
five billion pounds of carbon. This quantity, it is maintained, ex-
ceeds all that is locked up in the forests, and in the condition of
mineral coal in the earth's strata. From these facts we may be
satisfied tiiat the air can furnish carbon to an unlimited amount.
It might appear that the withdrawal of this vast qauntity of carbon
from the atmosphere would materially affect its composition. Of
this we cannot be assured. The withdrawal is a fact, but the
sources of supplies are adequate to effect a replacement of the ab-
stracted carbon. Thus in volcanic action vast qantities of carbonic
acid pass into and mingle with the atmosphere. What is with-
drawn by the operation of one class of forces is replaced by
another, so that it will be found, that the true balance is preserved,
that which organized beings, by their constitution require.
In the coal period vast quantities of carbon were withdrawn
also from the atmosphere, and solidified in the anthracites and bitu-
minous coals ; and hence it has been said that this abstraction of
car])on rendered the atmosphere better and purer than it had been
in former periods. The carbonic acid in the concurrent changes
NORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 1'5
of tlie day, gave up its oxygen, which, being added to the atmos-
pheric mass, improved it to the amount thus added.
Whether the constitution of the atmosphere has changed ma-
terially since animals and plants were created, cannot be settled by
calcnlations of the foregoing kind. We must resort to the deter-
mination by facts of a different nature — those which relate to the
wants and necessities of organic bodies. If our observations on
animals and plants are extended to the coal period, we cannot find
that they differed in their capacities to resist the poisonous effects of
excessive doses of carbonic acid better than those of the present time.
They appear to have been fitted to precisely similar conditions of
the surrounding elements, and to have breathed an atmosphere
like our own, and to have inhabited a medium identical with the
waters now upon the earth's snrface. In fine, it is not proved sat-
isfactorily that the deviations in the composition of the controlling
elements would injuriously affect the living organisms of the pres-
ent period. So that to all intents and purposes the atmosphere
w^as composed of elements existing in the ratios that they now
exist. It is possible, however, that compensating forces were more
active in early periods than now. If carbonic acid was removed
more rapidly from the atmosphere in the coal pei-iod, it may well
be maintained that volcanic agencies may have liberated more
carbonic acid fi'om the interior of the earth than now, and hence,
a balance among the forces would be preserved.
§ 4. The vast body of carbon locked up in the swamp lands of
Korth-Carolina must have been in solution, otherwise it could not
have been received into the tissues of the plants. As it now exists
it can scarcely be regarded as a soluble substance. If its solubility
had been preserved it would have disappeared and found its way
to the ocean. Insolubility is a preservative force, intended to pro-
tect important bodies from waste. The property, however, is ex-
cessively strong; as humic acid resists water alone with consider-
able force, requiring 2,500 times its weight to dissolve it. Both
heat and frosts too affect its solubility ; both enables it to resist so-
lution. In these facts we find a preservative power by which veg-
etable fertilizers remain a long time unchanged.
§ 5, While the carbonaceous bodies are soluble with difficulty in
water alone, we find that alkalies and particularly ammonia ejffect
their solution, and it seems that they have a strong affinity for this
NOETH-CAEOLmA GfEOLOGICAL STJEVEY,
substance, absorbing it readily wherever it is in their reach. As
ammonia is present in the atmosphere, and as rain contains it in
small quantities and being carried down into the midst of the peat,
it dissolves or combines with portions of it, and forms thereby food
for the nourishment of plants. While then, water in which peat is
constantly immersed scarcely dissolves it, ammonia comes in aid of
its feeble solvent powers, and thereby prepares a nutriment for the
growing crop ;" but the great store of matter remains, and is only
prepared in divided doses. The conservative force exerted in so-
lution, is not probably all that is concerned in supply, it is not im-
probable that the vitality of the plant some way or other regulates
and controls tlie reception of nutriment. We are not prepared to
say how. It may h& ultimately worked out by successive dis-
coveries similar to those which took place in regard to the changes
effected by the plant upon carbonic acid.
It would then be like the history of all great discoveries, effected
at different times and by the sagacity of different persons. Thus,
Bonnet, first observed the evolution of a gas from leaves immersed
in water ; Priestly, discovered that that gas was oxygen ; Ingen-
house demonstrated the necessity of solar light for its disengage-
ment, and finally, to complete the range of discovery, Leuwestein
has the honor of showing that the gas oxygen, is derived from car-
bonic acid. It is thus that discoveries advance in a certain line,
step by step towards an ultimate fact, or generalization, which is
required in order to express the perfection of the advancing series.
It is onlj'" at the termination of such demonstrative truths, that
theory receives its finishing stroke. In agriculture, practice has no
doubt advanced farther than theory. Indeed theory is so far in
the back ground that it may be regarded as existing in expecta-
tion, rather than in fact. The advancement of agriculture then,
cannot be ascribed strictly and in truth to theory ; neither has it
been so much under its guidance as many of the sciences. Many
practical suggestions have sprung up from theoretical doctrines ;
still, the practice of agriculture is rarely governed by them. In-
deed agricultural theories, belong to the, a jposteriori class, or those
which have grown out of experience. That the practice of agri-
culture has advanced far towards perfection without the aid of
theory, is not surprising, when it is considered that its operatiims
are yQvj simple, and that results flow from them with great cer-
NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
tainty. This fact has preveuted that special consideration of phe-
nomena, which would have come to pass in more complicated ar-
rangements. Besides, the phenomena with which agriculturalists
are most familiar, are enveloped in a kind of mystery ; and hence,
appear to be beyond their reach. They can however, bring out
the phenomena of vegetation in its season ; the grass and grain
spring up when they sow the seed ; they grow up under their
eyes, though not in obedience to their will. They stand however,
in the place of its proximate cause and they have learned by am-
ple experience, that their growth may be promoted or retarded by
certain agents; yet, the why and the wherefore they have not sat-
The UTILITY resulting from the analysis of soils. Methods pursued.
§ 6. A change of opinion has undoubtedly taken place in the
minds of farmers and chemists respecting the advantages of soil
analyses. In the earliest days of agricultural chemistry expecta-
tions were no doubt too high ; too much was expected. It would,
however, be contrary to facts, to deny that agriculture has been
advanced by the analysis of soils and the ash of plants. The
knowledge of soils is certainly much more exact than it could have
been had their composition been left to conjecture: and it is certain
that farmers do proceed in the application of manures with better
and more distinct ideas of what they are doing and what they
want. They now know the reason why the expensive manures,
potash and the phosphates, need be applied.
§ 7. It is no legitimate argument against analysis because it has
not accomplished all the utility which may have been claimed
when systematic agriculture was younger. If farmers and chemists
will only look at results, or study the history of agriculture for the
last fifty years, they will feel satisfied that its advancement has
.|,S NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
been due in the main to chemistry, and in part to the direct results
of the analysis of soils. Indeed, no real or rational progress could
have been made until much had been done in this line of chemical
research. The importance of minute proportions of the alkalies,
alkaline earths and phosphates could never have been understood
without these analyses. Experiments too, have grown out of
chemical results of the highest importance. The use of o^'ganic
matter has been established by experiments suggested by analysis.
It has been proved that organic matter is equally important with
inorganic, and moreover, must exist, or be furnished and exist in
it in a certain condition. No soil is absolutel}' destitute of organic
mattei-, but in the South its proportion is often too small. Planters
in the Southern States now understand why marl is injurious in
certain cases. They know how to prepare it for use to avoid dis-
astrous results; and all this must be traced to the benefit of the
analysis of soils. Show the planter a field which is deficient in
organic matter, and his application of marl will be governed by
this fact. He knows that if a large dressing is applied, his objects
will be defeated. He will proceed and make a compost of organic
matter and marl; and he knows that thus prepared, he may use
raai'l freely on poor land.
Now, accident could not have put him in possession of this im-
portant practical precept. He would, and did find out, that heavy
dressings of marl were injurious to crops for one or more years;
but he would never have discovered that it was due to a deficiency
of organic matter. This main fact was determined by analysis,
and moreover, it led to the settlement of the question respecting
ihe condition of the matter itself, and it is well established that it
is necessary that it should be oxidized, and pass to the condition of
an acid, in which state, it combines with the alkalies and eaiths,
and forms soluble bodies. These organic salts become the food
of the crop. The fact then, that organic matter is indispensable
to a fertile soil, together with the reason wdiy, has grown out of
analysis. But this is only one result. It may be said generally,
that all the most important experiments in the growth of crops
have grown out of the analysis of soils. For example, it was found
that the phosphates and alkalies formed only small fractions of all,
even fertile soils, and it occurred as it naturally would to philo-
sophical minds whether such small doses were really necessary to
NOETH-CAEOLINA (JEOLOGICAL SUEVET. "iB
the ripening and perfection of a crop. Experiments to settle this
important and interesting question were set on foot to determine
it, and they have resuUed in showing clearly and satisfactorily that
however little they may be, they are still essential to the perfec-
tion of seed. Now, what has grown out of analyses must be re-
garded as it respects utility, as a part and parcel of the original
investigation, and analysis thus viewed cannot be regarded in other
light than as having been eminently useful. It was necessary that
it should precede and prepare the way for this experimental work,
and we may probably assume that unless the preparatory steps had
been taken, those important questions would not have been pro-
The great objection which has been made to the utility of analysis
is that chemistry is incompetent to detect the certain minute and
essential elements of soils, without which the plant cannot perfect
itself, niKj exist in the soil in suflficient quantities, and yet be
beyond the reach of the chemist's skill to detect them.
Chemical analysis for example pretends not to find a less fraction
than — of a ffrain ; an acre of soil one foot deep will weigh 2,000,000
pounds ; an ordinary wheat crop will takeoff 200 pounds of mineral
matter, allowing one half to be phosphates and we have only one
twenty thousandth part composed of that part or quantity; and
hence, too small for the chemist to find. Four hundred pounds of
guano, conainingsay one-fifth phosphates applied to an acre entirely
destitute of phosphates, would, it is claimed make all the difference
there is between a good crop and no crop at all ; but this eighty
pounds, distributed through (2,000,000) two million pounds of soil
would be too trifling a quantity for the present state ot chemical
analysis to detect. Besides, it is farther said he does not need it, it
being too expensive and the general deductions of the chemist are of
more value to him than any particular analysis of his soil. Grant-
ed ; bat then, these very deductions are either the results of analy-
sis, or of experiments which analyses have suggested and called for.
There can be nothing truer, and hence to discard analysis on the
grounds stated is unjust to Liebig, Johnson, Mulder and others.
Then again it is said that a Boston chemist found a barren sand of
New Hampshire, with the same composition as anotiier specimen
from the rich Sciota Valley. This we dolibt ; be that as it may, the
subsequent paragraph shows very distinctly'' the prominent differ-
W NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOaiCAL SUBVET.
ences of the two examples of soil. The 'New Hampshire barren
sand was extremely coarse, the Sciota Yalley soil on the contrary
extremely fine. No one denies the importance of texture in a soil
and the chemist who should neglect to state the ditferences between
two so much alike in the quantity of sand, would omit a very im-
portant piece of information. It would belong to a series of gen-
eral deductions which the chemist has formed from either his
chemical and mechanical analyses of soils.
Again, the statement that one-fifth of the four hundred pounds
of guano, consisting'of phosphates distributed through 2,000,000
pounds of soil, makes all the diflPerence between a good ci'op and
no crop at all, is an assumption. In the case of the application of
guano, it is only fair to assume that the 400 pounds added is just
so much addition to the fertilizing matter already in the soil, and
in most cases we have never found an exception to this result, that
phosphates mfify be detected in 1000 grains of any soil. We are
unbelievers in the doctrine that 80 pounds of pliosphates only in
2,000,000 pounds of soil would produce a crop of wheat or any
other crop ; that it will, however, or will not, requires to be tested
§ S. The correct analysis of a soil is by no means a short and
easy task, as many have supposed, or seem to suppose, when they
forward their packages to the laboratory, and seem to expect re-
plies within twenty-four hours, at least.
That the reader may entertain more rational views of the work
than is usuaUy expressed by our correspondents, we give in part
the remarks upon this subject, by Dr. 0. T. Jackson, of Boston.*
"The analysis of soils is so difficult, and requires so much time,
that the chemist is often discouraged, and if paid for by the planter,
it would cost more than he could well afford. Hence, trustworthy
analyses must be made at the public expense, under the direction
of government. The manner in which the present analyses have
been made, demands from twenty to twenty-five days, and no
chemist can properly attend to more than one analysis at a time.
I state this to correct erroneous impressions on the subject. In de-
termining the ingredients of a soil, we have to work on a great
* Patent office report for 1858— pp. 291, 293.
NOKTS-CAROLTNA GEOLOGICAL STTRVET. »1
number of its separate portions, sometimes employing 100 grains
in the analysis, and at others 25, while to separate those ingre-
dients which occur sparingly, we employ at least 1,000 grains for
each determination. The results are subsequently reduced to per
centage in the tabulated form. In the first place, the sample has
to be dried at a moderate temperature in a current of dry, warm
air, and then thoroughly mingled, so that the successive portions
taken for analytic processes may be exactly alike.
To determine the amount of organic matter, 100 grains dried at
212° Fah. are burned in a platinum crucible, when the loss by
combustion and volatilization is ascertained by decrease of weight.
Then the soil is digested with chlorohydric acid, the matters solu-
ble in the acid are ascertained by the usual method, and their pro-
portions stated. Another analysis of 25 grains is next taken for
analysis by entire solution, and this is decomposed by fusion with
carbonate of soda in the manner employed in the analysis of inso-
luble silicious minerals, and a complete analj'^sis made, all the in-
gredients being weighed excepting the alkalies, which are deter-
mined by difference, while their relative proportions are ascertained
by the analysis of 100 grains of the soil by acids, and then their
ratios are computed for that portion which had been analyzed by
fusion with soda.
Again, separate portions of 100 grains each are employed for
the determination of the proportions of carbonic and phosphoric
acids, the first being ascertained by expelling, by means of a
stronger mineral acid, in a proper aparatus. The phosphoric acid
is thrown down from an acid solution in combination with peroxide
of iron, lime and magnesia, all of which are precipitated by arh-
monia. The weight of these substances combined is first ascer-
tained, when they are all re-dissolved and the oxide of iron is
separated in a state of sulphide of iron, which is again converted
into peroxide of iron by nitric acid, and re-precipitated, and again
weighed, whereby the proportion of phosphates is ascertained.
This is again checked by analysis of the sulphide of ammonia and
solution of the phosphates.
Then for the determination of sulphuric acid, chlorine, nitric
acid, ammonia and the organic acids, we operate on separate lots
of soil, each weighing 1,000 grains. Sulphuric acid is precipitated
by means of nitrate of l)arytes ; chlarine by nitrate of silver.; nitric
3^ NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVET.
acid is tested in an aqueous solution of the soil, boiling it witli
cblovoliydric acid and gold foil, to see if it dissolves any gold, and
by evaporation of the aqueous solution to dryness, and by testing the
deiiao-ration of the dry residue which contains oi-ganic matters
mixed sometimes with a minute proportion of nitrate of potash.
There is no direct mode of determining the proportion of .nitric
acid in a soil. It occurs only in minute proportions.
The organic acids of the soil, crenic, apocrenic and humic acids
are separated together from the insoluble humus by means of a
saturated solution of carbonate of ammonia, and after filtration
this solution on evaporation to dryness will give the weight of
these acids, with some phosphates, which are always dissolved by
the ammoniacal solution, namely, the phosphates of lime and
On burning the organic acids these phosphates are oblained, and
their weight deducted from the combined w-eight of the organic
matters and phosphates. By deducting the weight of the soluble
organic acids from the whole weight of the organic matters, we
have that of the insoluble humus or carbonaceous matters. We
also deduct from the soluble organic acids the weight of the am-
monia and determine it by a separate process on another 1,000 grains
of soil. The ammonia is ascertained by digesting distilled water,
acidulated with pure hydrochloric acid with 1,000 grains of the
soil • then on filtration, evaporation of the acid aqueous solution,
and the addition of bi chloride of platinum solution, we obtain
ammonia, as a soluble chloride of platinum and ammonia, by
which it is easy to compute the proportion of ammonia in the
organic matter of the soil from the weight of the double chloride."
We have pursued for the most part the foregoing detailed
methods, the results of which are usually satisfactory. Probably
the analysis of the soil of the swamp lands will be attended with
more utility than those of the midland or mountain counties, for
it determines with certainty the fact whether they are susceptible
of cultivation or not, and also, it determines the cause of their
Furthermore, as it regards the utility of analysis, we believe that
they have promoted the advancement of agriculture in an eminent
degree, and the reason why agriculturists and certain chemists
decry their utility is owing to their not effecting what enthusiasts
NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 23
promised, or what was expected. Too high expectations when un-
fulfilled are yerj liable to produce a reactive feeling and to call
out sentiments entirely of a depreciating character, or to lead j^ersons
to say that they are of no account. But until thorough analyses
liad been executed, a correct view of soils, eitlier practical or
theoretical, could never have been obtained. We now know for a
certaintj^, some of the functions of a soil, and it is a great deal to
know that the most important elements 'of growth exist only in
]ninute quantities, and that they may be removed in the course of
a tew years' cultivation. This is a practical fact, and could not
liave been guessed out; it remained to be determined by the skill
of the chemist and accurately conducted experiments.
The swamp lands. Their mode of formation and geological age.
§ 9. It is maintained that soils are the debris of rocks which
liave been foiming from the earliest periods of the earth's history.
This is no doubt literally true ; but the debris has been subjected
to certain changes, particularly those of place. It has not lain by
the side of the rock from w^hich it was separated in but few in-
stances, but its removal or change of place has been excessive in
many instances, as in the western and northern States, while in the
South that agency which is recognized there has not been in oper-
ation here. In this State, no currents of water have ever sw^ept
over the face of the earth, so as to remove the soil to a great
distance from the rocks from which it was derived. In the course
of time, that which belongs strictly to the present period, however,
a partial removal to distant quarters has taken place. This removal
was efi'ected mostly by rivers acting locally upon banks of soil,
which by little and little were transported to the Atlantic coast, or
to inland bays, like the Albemarle and Palmico of our coast.
]^ow, the soils during the act of removal, were subjected to the
24 NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY,
assorting power of water, whereby the coarser parts were separa-
ted from the finer and distributed according to the comparative
gravity ; the finer particles being transported farther than the
coarse, and probably in different directions, both laterally and
The present operations of water illustrate in part tiie nature of
those by which removals formerly took place. "We cannot but
notice the turbid conditions of the Roanoke, the Neuse and the
Cape Fear, during a freshet. It is due to the soil which has been
lost from their banks, and which is being transported seawards,
but which must subside in part, before the waters reach their des-
tination. In freshets, the low ground? are inundated with this
muddy water, and it frequently happens that an inch or more of
fine soil is deposited at certain places which are favorably situated,
or in places where the waters are unagited by the rapid current?.
What is usually seen, however, is along the immediate banks of
the rivers, and it is not unfrequently the case, that all the old veg-
etation, however rank, is buried, or concealed beneath the sedi-
ment. But in addition to this heavy deposit, there is still a finer
one which is carried by the water into lateral marshes, and this
water, though robbed of a part of its burthen, still retains tlie
finest, \yhich slowly settles among the moss, reeds, grasses, &c.,
which belong to this peculiar formation. These waters are slowly
drawn off, and perhaps even remain for weeks, and are only dis-
posed of by mid-summer, by evaporation, and during the time
vegetation is active while it is receiving the fine sediments of the
ovei'flowing rivers. In conditions like the foregoing we probably
find the best swamp soils formed, inasmuch as there is added to
to the growing mosses fine sediments which become the basis of
the best of soils, and which are intimately intermingled with an
abundance of fertilizing matter in the condition of peat.
Such is the process by which the best swamp lands are made,
while the poorer being situated where only the white assorted sand
has access. When the sand and vegetation has reached a certain
bight, or has attained the level of ordinary freshets, vegetation
still goes on, and moss, grass, and certain herbaceous plants and
trees, still grow, until the surface upon which thej'^ stand is
higher than the margins. The whole mass of vegetation which
grew in former years is like a sponge, and it is at all times nearly
NOKTH-OAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL BUKVEY.
atiirated with water. In this condition it receives no further addi-
tion of soil ; it is a mere growth of water living vegetables which
maintain their place bj their constitutional adaptations. This
vegetation is divisible into two parts, the dead and living; the
former beneath, the latter above. This status quo is maintained
solely by the low temperature of the swamp. All the vegetation
below is as it were, water logged, and in process of time it simply
blackens, as it is a water charring; and when it has become peat
it nndei-goes no farther change. This is the exact condition of
many swamps ; above they consist of a mass of vegetation of the
poorest plants, the mosses and coarse grasses ; and for trees, some
pines of a small size, and many bays or magnolias. Let such a
swamp be drained and it subsides from a one to two feet; a change
which is confined to the upper part. In early days, or when first
forming, sand was received from a distance, or it may have been
laid down npon an old sandy sea bottom. But it has generally
happened that the lower parts of the vegetable mass is mixed with
sand, showing that though the swamp was based upon a sea bot-
tom ; yet, being basin shaped, it continued for a time to receive
materials from a distance. The age of these deposits is no doubt
recent. They repose npon the eolian sands, and generally, so far
as their bottoms have been exposed for examination, they belong
to most recent coast deposits, and yet, it is probably true, that they
extend far back beyond the settlement of the coast. Still, they are
ppoperly modern formations, and are entirely connected with the
present state and arrangements of the present line of coasts, and
the river systems coming in from the interior.
It is probably true, that as to agricnltnral valne, it will prove
that those which are the highest or have become higher than tide
water by growth of vegetation, they are of less value while those
which are so situated that they receive the overflowings of rivera
imtil a late period, and hence are last formed, are the most valuable-.
Hyde county, for example, is only about 4 or 5 feet above storna
tides. The Dover swamp in Craven county, we believe, is nearlj
60 feet ; the first is excellent land, and the latter worthless,— or
comparatively so. In the same field, however, with these poor
swamps we may often find fertile islands capable of bearing heavj
crops of corn. The means by which such islands may be recog-
nised will be stated farther on.
26 NOKTH-GASOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Geographical position of the swamp lands, and their extent in North-Carolina.
Defective information in the public archives of the State. The Savannah
§ 30. The lands under consideration are confined to the eastern
counties. They scarcely touch thg long, narrow sounds which
ekirt the Atlantic. Large bodies extend from fifty to one hundred
miles from the ocean, and occupj' wide belts, not far from,
and parallel \. ith, the principal rivers. Their shape is, however,
irregular, and it will be seen by the inspection of any correct map,
that thej^ must occupy ground considerably higher than the beds
of the river which they skirt. They are reservoirs of water, and
numerous streams issue from them on all sides which find their
way to the river channels by exceedingly crooked routes or courses.
§ 11. The most northern swamp is a continuation of the great
Dismal, lying partly in Virginia and partly in IS^orth-Carolina, and
which occupies large tracts in Currituck and Pasquotank counties.
Pasquotank river rises in this swamp, its head being really in Lake
Drummond, in Virginia. Towns and numerous hamlets, however,
are planted in the great Dismal Swamp. It is traversed by roads,
and few in passing through this section of country would suspect
they were in this swamp, famous the world over for its ominous
The largest territory of swamp lies in Washington, Tyrrell,
Beaufort and Hyde counties. Its whole length is rather more than
^8eventy-five miles from east to west, and at least forty-five in the
•widest part from north to south. It lies between Albemarle Sound,
'tiie lower Roanoke River, and Pamlico Sound, Pamlico and Tar
■Rivers. The most eastern parts of this great tract, however,
should be regarded as tnarsh land^ and subject to overflow during
•Btorra tides. Like all swamp lands, the middle is higher by a lew
■feet thain the margins. It terminates westward, near Washington,
(Beaufort county. This great body differs from other swamps by a
more uniform continuity, and a more perfect level, and with fewer
%nowles, aaUed tVZ«7it^«. Hyde County, for example, is level as a
Ihouse floor, and as even as a well cooetracted gar«leQ. It is but a
NORTH-CAKOUNA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 2|.
few feet above tide ; too few to give depth for wells, and hence,
water for cooking is supplied mainly from cisterns resting upon
the ground. This swamp has four shallow lakes of considerable
size. The largest is Matamuskeet, which is twenty miles long.
Lying a few feet lower than the swamp are tracts of stiff clay soil,
probably as good for wheat as any in the State, but these diverse
kinds are never intermingled ; the clay is a kind of outlier or
border. The lands of this great swamp have become famous for
the large crops of corn they produce. They are called the Hyde
county or Matamuskeet lands.
Again, included between the forks of Pamlico and Neuse Elvers
is another swamp thirty miles long, but in area, it is less than an.
eighth of the Matamuskeet Swamp and Pungo Swamp.
South of the Neuse, and lying in Carteret and Jones counties,
there is another immense tract of swamp land, 80,000 acres of
which is known as the open prairie of Carteret. In nearly a con-
tinued belt this swamp is 75 miles long from east to west, but its
width is less than the Matamuskeet swamp. It is not by any
means perfectly continuous. It admits the passage of road^, but
it lies nearly upon one plane, and the slight inequalities scarcely
serve to divide it into separate sections.
Dover swamp is an isolated tract some fifteen miles in length,
and is crossed by the Atlantic Railroad.
Onslow and Jones counties contain a part of the great Carteret
tract. This tract, at its western extremity, gives origin to thp
White Oak creek.
Holl}' Shelter swamp lies parallel with east Cape Fear river. It
begins in Onslow county, but the greatest part lies in New Hano-
ver county, east of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.
In Brunswick county lies the Green swamp. It is rather lower
than those we have mentioned, but it is peculiar in having numer-
ous islands; that is, rounded hillocks, but slightly elevated above
the general surface of the swamp. These are inhabited by
squatters, who live by basket-making, and by general plunder of
those materials which can be turned into hominy, hoe-cake and
a little bacon. On the border of this swamp there has been
formed a beautifullake with clear water, and known as Waccamaw
lake, and from which flows the Waccamaw river, a beatable stream,
though it is liabl§ to, be J^locked up by trees and dead tinj^er.
28 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVICY.
Livingston's creek rises in this swamp, and is boatable from the
Cape Fear to the crossing of the Manchester Railroad, and up
which the tide flows twelve miles, rising something like two feet
at its mouth. Columbus county contains large bodies of swamp
land, but not so continuous as the Green swamp of Brunswick.
The whole number of acres of swamp lands in the State is at
least two millions, of which the State owns one million jive hundred
thousand. This, however, does not include the marsh lands bor-
dering the sounds. There are also smaller tracts owned by indi-
viduals, of considerable value, in all the counties we have named.
There is, however, a deficiency of statistics and records of surveys,
and although the swamp lands are vastly important, the archives
of the State furnish reallv no information of value. Private indi-
viduals who are personally interested in large tracts of those lands,
have furnished all the reliable information we possess relative to
In contrast with the swamp lands, we may briefly notice the
Savannah lands. These are beautiful, open and level spaces, cov-
ered now with broom grass. We have not been told what they
produced in early times. The largest in the State lie on both sides
of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, in the county of Kew
Hanover, and not far above Wilmington. A traveler passing over
the road in the day time, will admire their beautiful surfaces,
though they are not covered with brilliant flowers and the more
valuable crops of cereals.
Temperature of soils. Distribution and circulation of heat
§ 12. Every plant and every crop requires a certain temperature
for its perfection ; not that it requires exactly such a number of
degrees of Fahrenheit, but crops and plants require for perfection
a limited range of temperature, and this limited range may be
NOBTH-CAKOLmA GEOLOGICAL SUEVEY.
regarded in the light of a special latitude. The source of heat is
the sun. Its ra3^s penetrate or affect the soil in this latitude to the
depth of probably 100 feet. At this depth a thermometer would
remain stationary the whole year, being changed neither in sum-
mer nor winter. The summer's heat will not cause it to rise, nor^
the winter's cold to fall. In this space, in consequence of the^
continued action of the sun's rays in spring and summer, heat
accumulates, especially in the upper beds of soil, and the roots of
plants, and as the fall and winter set in, receive from beneath, the
heat which has accumulated. The surface layers become cold as
autumn advances, but beneath, the store which has accumulated
keeps the roots warm, and probably tempers or mitigates the cold
above. But the cold season expends the stock, and when the
spring comes round with its showers, its buds and flowers, the sun's
heat is found to be penetrating again the depths of soil with the
same intensity as in former years. It cannot be affirmed that the
season begins with a portion of the old stock of heat remaming,
for in that case there would be ultimately a great excess of heat
in the soil. Each year's observations give the same average results
in the same latitude.
In the spring and summer the accumulation has a certain uni-
formity of increase and decrease. The increase reaches its maxi-
mum by the middle of August, when the heat of the soil diminishes,
though sensibly, the temperature of the air remains for a week or
two much the same as in the first part of the month. The stock
of heat is gradually expended. The winter is undoubtedly milder
and softer in consequence, and vegetation is thereby less exposed
to injurious extremes of cold, especially their roots, which will be
preserved alive in many instances, though the stem may be killed.
Surfaces, however, are affected differently. Water becomes
heated much less than the soil, and to a certain extent we are safe
in affirming, that its penetration is governed by the dryness of the
surface and its color. A wet surface having the character of a
sponge, will remain nearly as cold as a water surface. The princi-
ple is well understood ; for as we have already stated water evapo-
rates at all temperatures, but it cannot evaporate in the total ab-
sence of heat, but however cold It may be, the vapor which rises
absorbs a certain amount of heat. The heat of a body saturated
with water is kept cold by the escaping vapor. Pour ether upon
W :^M?%AS6tSX GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Land, or any other substance which vaporises rapidly, and a great
degree of cold is felt. The hand parts with its heat or as it is tech-
nically called, its caloric, and it is precisely so with soil, with a
sponge and the swamp lands of the Eastern counties. It is to the
coldness of the surface or the vegetable mass caused by evapora-
tion, that it has been preserved, and by which it is kept cool. The
swamp lands, however, have a double protection ; first, a thick for-
est, and an under-growth of water shrubs or grasses, and then the
man'fle of water for a part of the year, or for the whole year, a
fountain of water which is sufficient to feed the spongy turf, or
mosses of the surface. If water escapes in vapor from the surface,
it is instantly supplied with more, just as a sponge is kept wet when
its base rests in water and its temperaiure will not rise until all the
water is evaporated. The following experiments establish the fore-
going statements :
On the 21st ot April, between 9 and 10 A. M., the temperature
of the air was 72.
The temperature of a water covered surface 64°.
That of a boggy place in the sun 10 feet distant, 64°.
At another similar place, 62°.
And at a wet grassy surface shaded in part, 62°.
Temperature of the soil imperfectly drained, 68°.
Temperature of a light colored granite soil well drained 70°.
Temperature of a red soil well drained at the surface, 74°.
Its temperature six inches deep, 68°.
Temperature of a black soil at the surface 90° ; 3 inches beneath
82° ; 6 inches beneath 80° ; showing a gradual penetration of heat
downwards. In January 22d, the temperature ^f the air was 41° ;
temperature of falling rain 4.*^° ; temperature of the earth 44° at the
depth of 6 inches. The wet surfaces are invariable colder then
than the dry ; the light are colder than the colored ; and the black
warmer than either.
The black surfaces were made so, by fine charcoal which was in-
termingled with a giay granite soil.
The black soils of the swamps when laid dry become sufficiently
warm for the-perfection of indian corn even when water stands in
the fuiTOws a part of the season.
The preservation of the body of vegetable matter forming the
swamp lands is due to two causes : 1st, low temperature ; 2d, the
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVET.
exclnsion of air containing oxygen, which is the agent which com-
bines with the organic matter and forms with them linmic, crenic,
apocrcnic acids, and which in their turn combine with anjmonia,
lime, magnesia, and iron, and which are supposed to be the food of
The temperature of the earth from January 22d to April 21st has
advanced from 41° to 68°-70°. The color causing an increase ac-
cording to its depth ; and black soil at the depth of 6 inches reach-
At a later period it is sometimes found to rise to 120° when ex-
posed to the sun when a marsli near by was only 67°.
From the foregoing facts we may readily surmise what is needful
to be done to increase the surface as well as bottom heat. The
most rude savage, if he had any idea at all respecting indian corn,
would never plant it in a wet place ; he would select a dry surface.
But, having done this, it is not certain that in everj^ case it would
be possible to increase the heat of the soil by artificial means.
However, as dark soils become warm in proportion to their depth
of color, we may, under favorable circumstances, mix black sub-
stances with the soil, such as char coal and peat. Wheat grows
better on a stiff red soil than a stiff light one. In most cases the
color demonstrates that chemical action has progressed farther
than in a light colored soil. In the former the iron has become, at
least in a part of it, saturated with oxygen. One part may remain
in a protoxide; and if there is organic matter in the soil this is
certainly the case, as it deoxidizes the peroxide, a change which is
supposed to be a very important one in reference to the formation
of ammonia in the soil. In connexion with the subject of cold
and wai'm soils, we may state a beautiful compensation with regard
to the distribution of heat. The loss of heat by evaporation has
been fully stated, but it may not have occnred to the common
reader that the reverse takes place when this vapor condenses
again as it is carried landward, and as the air hovers over the soil
with its load of water, every object cooler than itself is moistened
with dew, and the heat of this vapor is imparted to the surfaces on
which it is deposited. When, however, equalization of tempera-
ture between the air and bedewed surfaces has taken place, it is no
longer formed. The properties of air, whether as a carrier of
moisture and heat, or as a moving body, are eminently adapted to
m NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
the wants of vegetation ; they are what the farmer wants for his
crops; doing that in the simplest and gentlest manner possible to
supply. tlie necessities of the infant plant. They are cooled in the
hot sunshine by evaporation, and warmed by the dews of the
evening, and are thereby saved from the chills which the absence
of the sun tend to produce. Water, as most persons on reflection
will perceive, is a material proper to our earth as much as oxygen,
silex or gold ; but heat is in one sense a foreign product, not to call
it matter, originating in the operation of forces peculiar to matter.
The great source of heat which the outward parts of the earth
enjoys is derived from the sun. It is distributed by numerous
agencies, but its nature is such that the heat of one year passes to
the celestial spar-es, and what is enjoyed the next is a new emana-:
tion from the sun and from the active agencies of earth. It is not,
then, like water, preserved from year to year by a conservative
force ; but we are indebted for its continuation to the constant
action of the sun and the terrestial forces which are appointed to
furnish it from their store houses.
These remarks, we are aware, have no connexion with swamp
lands that we can perceive, and still they are not to be regarded as
entirely useless, especially wiien taken in connexion with the re-
marks concerning the conservation of water and its perpetual
residence upon the earth's surface and connexion with the atmos-
Swamp lands divided into six districts. The Dismal swamp district has not
been explored. Diversity of composition of these lands. Elevated in the
§ 13. The swamp lands of North-Carolina may be regarded as
forming six districts. The first beginning on the north, is the Dismal
swamp, which lies both in Virginia and North-Carolina. The
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. fH
second is the Albemarle and Pamlico swamp district, lying be-
tween the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. This large tract is of a
quadrangular form and occupies large areas in Tyrrell, Hyde,
Washington and Beaufort counties, and probably has the largest
acreage of any swamp in the State. It is also the type of all the
rest, and will by itself represent every variety of this kind of land
which is found in either of the others.
The third is Bay river district, lying between Pamlico and Neuse
rivers, both of which in their lower reaches, swell out into wide
The fourth is Carteret county district, lying between the Neuse
and Bogue and Core sounds. In this lies the great open prairie
tract of eighty thousand acres, and which is owned mostly by the
The fifth is the Holl}^ Shelter swamp, including Angola bay,,
lying between 'New river and the East Cape Fear.
The sixth is Green swamp, lying mostly in Brunswich county.
The Dismal swamp district has not been sufficiently examined
to enable us to speak definitely with respect to its agricultural
character. It is believed to furnish the characteristics of the other
districts. A single analysis of a specimen of its soil in the early
part of the survey, and which was procured within a few miles of
Eh'zabeth City, gave results closely resembling those taken from
The examination of the second district has been much more ex-
tensive, having procured samples of soils from all sides of this
extensive tract. This we have regarded as particularly worthy of
attentive examination and illustration, as it furnishes the best types
of soil with which the others may be compared. Those of Hyde
county are the best known, and when it is found that a soil has a
composition similar to those of this county, we are sure that they
will be productive.
It is not designed to intimate in the foregoing statement, that
this large tract has been crossed, or traversed extensively. It has
been examined, however, in Tyrrell county, in Hyde, on both sides
of Matamuskeet lake, in Washington and Beaufort counties. We
have samples of soil which no doubt represent all the varieties
which occur in this great tract. It is proper to observe in this
place, that the swamp lands of this State present as much diversity
Pt NORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
in composition as those of the middle or western connties. For
example, as it regards the quantity of vegetable matter ; some are
composed almost exclusively of it, while in others, it is reduced to
a minimum, and thereby scarcely differ from ordinary soils. We
find between these, extremes of every imaginable variety in the
quantity of vegetable matter, though to the eye there is a very close
resemblance. Besides in the counties above named, there are
large tracts which are M'ell adapted to the growth of wheat, being
composed of large proportions of clay, with only the ordinary
quantity or per centage of organic matter.
There is still another interesting fact which should be noticed here
inasmuch as it is applicable to all the large tracts of swamp land ;
it is, that they are all higher in the middle than upon the borders.
This explains the fact why the streams all flow outward. They all
originate in a culminating belt, or crown ; and it is this interior
belt, which gives in analysis the great excess of vegetable, while
the outskirts contain a greater porportion of inorganic matter. This
statement however, does not always hold good ; yet it is so common
as to be worthy of notice. Hence too in ditchiig, it is necessary
to keep the cut level or down, so as not to run out in its progress
towards the crown of the swamp. We shall also expect from the
foregoing to find the vegetable matter increasing, and perhaps to
be approaching to that extreme, that it will not be advisable to at-
tempt to bring it into immediate cultivation.
The miner, in his trials for gold, follows if possible the lead to the
vien, the great depository of metal ; the farmer or planter, will pro-
ceed something in the same way, trying at short intervals the mass
for the purp se of determining the quantity of eai'th, or soil which
is intermingled with the vegetable matter, inasmuch as cultivation
turns, we think, on the quantity which it contains, at least in the
present state of our agricultural knowledge.
As many variations exist in composition, so it will be found that
there will necessarily occur equivalent variations in value In or-
der to determine the value of any part of the uncultivated sections
they should be compared with lands under cultivation and which
have been proved by experiment. Certainly this course !nust be
regarded as the safest, though we believe that it is not diffi-
cult to arrive at a safe conclusion provided the proper steps are
taken to determine one or two p"ints, the quantity of soil in the
NOKTH-CAKOLINA (GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
mass, and its condition whether it is fine or coarse, or is made np
entirely of marine sand. In this case it certainly is better than an
entire absence of mineral matter ; yet, if it is to be cultivated other
elements must be added.
Composition of swamp lands stated. Hyde county. Natural crop is Indian
corn. Number of plants to the acre. Quantity raised.
§ 14. The composition of the swamp lands, which now claims
attention, will be as fully stated as seems to be necessary for a full
knowledge of their peculiar properties. In doing this it is regard-
ed as expedient to bring together all the analyses which have been
made which are trust-worthy. As it regards those which were given
in the report for 1856, they will be also restated as they have been
re-examined and additional results obtained, which were necessary
to make them complete. Hyde is an ancient county. It occupies
the eastern part of the 2d district of swatnp lands ; is elevated only
a few feet above the tide storms of the coast. The marsh lands
everywhere skirt the best swamp land, but they are never included
in those which are under consideration, even such parts of them
which are only rarely overflowed by tides. , They are too saline
for the cereals, or the line meadow grasses.
It is in this county that the durability of swamp lands has been
tested, ihe records of the courts and reliable tradition show that
certain tracts have been under constant cultivation over a century
with a 3'early crop of grains, principally Indian corn, without
showing a decrease in the number of bushels per acre or any
diminution in the fertility of the soil. It is rather maintained that
they improve under cultivation ; and this is not surprising, because
they are brought to a condition more favorable to vegetation in
consequence of the free admission of air and the disappearance of
36 NORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
an upper surface too much charged with vegetable matter. Ee-
sides it becomes more compact, and is better able to support the
heavy foilage. In a loose soil the roots are unable to sustain the
foilage and keep it upright against the force of strong winds which
sometimes visit the low counties. The roots are liable to be broken
or injured in resisting its force. Though the soil is still to be
regarded as light and loose, it is not spongy, and water rises through
it as in other soils, though moisture is favored by the presence of
a large amount of vegetable matter.
The color is black or dark brown, as already indicated, and the
whole mass near the surface looks as if it was composed entirel}'
of vegetable matter. We see no particles of sand or soil in it.
On the sides and bottoms of ditches a light gray, or ashy soil
is discernable. Indeed, it is regarded as ashes, and is so called,
and is supposed to have been formed by the combustion of ancient
beds of vegetable matter. The cultivated lands of Hyde ai-e not
chaffy, that is when dry, like tinder and liable to take tire from a
spark or ignited by a gun wad. There are, it is true, tracts lying
in connexion with them of this character, which are quite limited,
but their occurrence does not affect this general characteristic.
The following substances with their proportional numbers ex-
press the composition of a soil which has been under cultivation
three years. The tract is owned by Dr. Long, and is a part of an
old plantation which has been under cultivation for more than one
Organic matter, 46.10
Oxide of iron and alumina, 6.40
Carbonate of lime, 0.21
Magnesia, 0. 12
Soda, '. 0.18
Soluble silex, 0.03
Sulphuric acid, 0.04
Phosphoric acid, 0.30
Soluble organic matter, 2.00
NOKTH-CAKOLTNA GEOLOGICAL SUEYET. ^
The silex of tliis soil is exceedingly fine and of a drab color. It
is too fine to detect with certainty its origin. When it is a grade
coarser, it frequently contains particles of mica and felspar, indi-
cating that the parent rock from which it was derived, were the
common granites which skill the low country, and which form a
distinct belt, running nearly north-east and south-west. If this
earth constituted by itself the main body of soil, it would be too
fine, and form a mass too compact to admit the free penetration
and circulation of air. In this respect it resembles the fine grained
soils of some of the western States, and which are easily moved
and blown into clouds by strong winds. The intermixture of veg-
etable matter makes it sufficiently porous, and by its agency pre-
serves that open state so needful for the promotion of chemical
changes, the development of carbonic acid, the deoxidation of the
peroxide of iron and the absorption of ammonia. The lime does
not probably exist in the condition of a carbonate; it is the state
in which it is obtained ; but probably as it exists in the soil it is
in combination with an organic acid, which during the combustion
is converted into a carbonate.
The alkalies are less in quantity than we should naturally expect
from soils so productive.
But what at first appears remarkable, is the small quantity of
chlorine and sulphuric acid. Both seem to be nearly absent; it is
rarely that we attempt to weigh them. Whether their absence is
due to the original wet state of the soil, we are unable to form an'
opinion. We should expect to find chlorine in a soil so near the
ocean that during storms it must be taken up and carried inland,
and from this cause it would be expected that it would at least
appear in a per centage as large as in soils a hundred miles from
The composition of the subsoil it will be seen differs from the
former, taking a quantity two and ahalf feet from the top from the
side of a ditch free from growing vegetables we found it had the
following composition :
Insoluble organic matter, 16.30
Hunic acid or soluble organic matter, 3. TO
aa. NOKTH-OAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Peroxide of iron, 2.10
Carbonate lime, 50
Phosphate of lime, 50
Silicic acid, 14
The color of the subsoil after drying is brown and particles of
fine sand are distinguishable. It often shows light or gray patches
which are regarded as ashes derived from ancient combustions. It
is due to the inorganic matter which gives a lighter color to the
mass. The soluble organic matter is large in this instance. The
quantity of ammonia is smaller at this depth than at the surface.
The constitution of this part of the soil is excellent, possessing
all the elements which are necessary for the growth of crops. The
specimen for analysis was taken about midway between the top
and bottom of the mass of soil ; below, it preserved the same com-
position apparently or so far as mechanical exploration could furn-
ish information, tliough it is probably more highly charged with
soil as it seems to increase with depth. But taking the whole mass
of soil which is about six feet deep at this part of the plantation
and not less elsewhere, there is in sight a large store house of mat-
ter to sustain the crops, or any future vegetable growth.
§ 15. This plantation, which has been under actual cultivation for
a period sufficiently long to test most thoroughly the capacity of
the Hyde county soils for endurance, is at present ihe property of
Dr. Long of Lake landing. Its ownership can be traced back for
six generations, and the crops which have been removed have ne-
cessarily been confined to the cereals and probably Indian corn,
with an occasional crop of wheat, which is cultivated for the pur-
pose of occupying the land with something more profitable than a
heavy growth of weeds. It is necessary they should be excluded
The composition of a sample of this soil, which has been so long
under the plow, has been determined with the following results :
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. ^.
Insoluble organic matter, 18.80
Humic acid or soluble organic matter, 3.40
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 8.00
Carbonate of lime, 0. 1
Magmjsia, 0. 09
Silicic acid, 0.20
Phosphate of lime, 0.62
Sulphuric acid, trace.
This soil is shown to contain less organic matter than the first,
and a larger proportion of silica. The tirst element must necessarily
diminish under cultivation more rapidly than can be accounted for
by removal in the crop. It is consumed by exposure to the ele-
ments, undergoing a change analogous to combustion, and which
Liebig has termed eremacausis.
The quantity of corn which is cultivated per acre, is reckoned by
the number of plants allowed to stand. The common rule in Hj'de
county, we believe is to cultivate fourteen thousand per aci'e; and
it is common to allow two or three plants to grow in a hill. A crop .
made up or consisting of such a number of plants per acre will
give a stranger a correct knowledge of the capabilities of the soil.
But it should be observed that the immense growth of foilage with
stalks is somewhat out of portion to the grain, and it appears, that
maize, growing in a very rich soil, runs somewhat to foilage, though
not to the excess which is observed in oats, wheat and other cereals.
The hight of the corn, upon an average, is 12 feet high. The grain
is rather lighter also than northern or western corn, and the ears,
taken as a whole, appear rather less than when grown upon soil
with less vegetable matter.
The usual crop is between 10 and 12 barrels of 5 bushels, to the
acre. If heavy winds in the early part of the season, or other
^ents act unfavorably, it will be diminished to 9 or 10 barrels per
aere, while ia favorable seasons it reaches twelve barrels.
40 NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
The result may not strike a person as remarkable ; but it should
be considered that no manure is called for, and the simplest and
cheapest mode of cultivation is all that is required to make a crop
of this standard, and this is the common result, without an expendi-
ture in money and labor for manure. Therefore, there is a larger
profit, though it is not uncommon to obtain a larger yieid, but it is
done at a heavy expence in fertilizers and labor.
§ 16. The soils analyzed as stated in the foregoing paragraphs,
were taken from the south side of Matamuskeet lake. The north
side is usually regarded as better land. It is not, however, fully
established that this opinion is well founded. The diflPerences are
slight, if any. The composition of the soil of the north side is
certainly much the same, as we believe. The following is a state-
ment of the composition of a portion of soil from the plantation of
Mr. Burrows, taken at a depth of eight inches. It had been under
culture for three years:
Insoluble organic matter, 38.80
Humic acid, or soluble organic matter, 3.20
Peroxide of iron, 3.70
Silicic acid, 0.40
Carbonate of lime, 0.48
Potash, , . 0. 18
Phosphoric acid, 0.12
Sulphuric acid, trace.
The lands of Hyde follow the same rule respecting the presence
of chlorine and sulphuric acid, as all the swamp lands of the
eastern and southern counties. Their absence is not satisfactorily
accounted for, unless it is due to excessive moisture, or to their
removal by constant contact with water. The timber of the soils
of the Matamuskeet country are black gum and cypress, both of a
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL 'sURVEY. 4|^
large size. Large pines and poplars are not uncommon, and all
are regarded as indicative of a rich soil. This opinion is un-
dftubtedly true, and may be relied upon. It is, in fact, perfectly
compatible with all the arrangements and conditions required.
While the timber of the poor tracts bear trees of a small size, of a
different kind, appear dwarfed or starved, for want of nutriment.
The poor soils also bear upon their surfaces indications equally
compatible with the conditions in which they are connected, but
in the latter it is perhaps a condition which may be greatly im-
§ 17. It will be useful in passing, to compare the swamp lands
with the prairies of Illinois, or any other tract of the great west,
whose characteristics have drawn westward so many emigrants
from New England, New York and the old world.
The soils of the prairies have a great natural fertility, and which
it is supposed by many are so excessive that they will bear culti-
vation for thousands of years, though not without the aid of fer-
tilizers. Large tracts in Europe, Lombardy, for example, have
yielded crops for two thousand years. But Lombardy yields her
crops, and has done so from time immemorial, by the aid of fer-
tilizers, and vrhich are husbanded in a manner and with a care,
which is unknown out of that country. Calculations are made to
a penny, what a pound of any given fertilizer is worth. It is a
money article. The long period during which Lombardy and
England have been cultivated, and are still productive, proves the
value of the basis of the soils upon which agriculture has rested.
§ 18. A prairie soil of Illinois is usually black, or brownish
black and friable, from an intermixture of earthy or sandy matter.
It has a basis or subsoil of a stiff yellowish clay, and such is
the nature of this soil, that it has borne a succession of crops
of maize for thirty years, and even more, without manure. These
lands are better adapted to maize than wheat, and partly so for the
same reasons that this crop succeeds better in all the swamp lands
than wheat. Besides, the open prairies are swept in the winter by
strong chilling winds, which injure wheat by rooting it up. Such
influences m.ust bear annually upon lands thus exposed. The
crops of com are larger than in Hyde county, but whether they
sell for as much money, is quite doubtful. A prairie crop often
reaches a iiundred bushels per acre. The farmers of Hyde seem
42 NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
to be contented with 60 bushels per acre, and at the same time we
see no reason wliy they too miglit not increase it to 100 bushcj^s-
The composition of the prairie lands furnish some differences, but
there is so much uniformity that they appear to form only one
§ 19. An example or two showing the composition of the best of
the class will suffice for a comparison with the Hyde county corn
lands. Thus, the best kind consists of:
Organic matter and water in combination, 9.05
Oxides of iron, 4.30
Phosphoric acid, 10
Sulphuric acid, 08
Carbonic acid and traces of chlorine, 09
Containing nitrogen, 34 Prof. Voelcker.
§ 20. Prof. Yoelcker remarks* that the soil is not rich in phos-
phoric acid, but still, there is an ample store to meet all the re-
quirements of the plants usually cultivated upon the farm. The
great and important distinction in the composition of the prairie
soil and swamp lands, is the great excess of vegetable matter in
the latter. The prairie soil possesses no advantages in point of
composition with respect to the expensive elements, 'phosphoric
acid, potash, soda, lime, etc. The prairie lands must necessarily
require fertilizers at an early day, while the magazine of food in
the swamp lands will require centuries before it can be consumed,
even under constant cultivation.
Another variety of prairie soil analyzed by Prof. Yoelcker is re-
garded as less fertile than the preceeding. It is composed of ;
Prairie farming in America, hj James C. Caird, M. P,
NOBTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. *i8
Organic matter and water of combination, 5.76
Alumina, , 1.57
Oxide of iron, 2.57
Phosphoric acid, 05
Sulphuric acid, 05
Carbonic acid, and traces of chlorine and loss, .... 53
Containing Nitrogen, 0.2.6
Tlie proportion of nitrogen, says Prof. Yoelcker, is less as mighl;
be expected from the smaller quantity of organic matter. How-
ever, two tenths per cent, is regarded as a large proportion though
when expressed in fractional numbers it appears insignificant, yefc
when it is known that the weight of soil, ten inches deep upon an
acre amounts to a thousand tons in round numbers, the quantity
of nitrogen in an acre of soil existing in this proportion will be
about two tons. A crop of wheat of 36 bushels to the acre with
its straw, contains fifty two pounds of nitrogen, and a crop of Swed-
ish turnips only about thirty-six pounds.
In this connection it will be instructive to many to see the com-
position of a rich wheat soil of Scotland analyzed by Prof. Ander-
son. It is from Mid Lothian and consists of:
Organic matter and water, .......,...,,.. 10.19
Oxides of iron, ^ 5.17
Phosphoric acid, .., 0.43.
Sulphuric acid, 0.04
Carbonate acid and loss,. ...^ 0.03
Nitrogen^. .. . ..^»..^^.. ..... . ,. , ,..-......». 22.
M NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVlfiT.
§ 21. Several analyses of swamp soils have been made, which,
at the time, were regarded as owned by the State, but subsequent-
ly we were informed were taken from the lower part of the valley
of the Mississippi. They were furnished by the Hon. B. F. Moore
of this place. It is impossible to find marks by which No. 1 may be
distinguished from a Hyde county soil. They were numbered up
to seven. No. 1 is black and fine, showing that the vegetable
matter has passed into the condition of well formed peat. It gave,
on analysis :
No. 1. No. 3.
Water, U.50 2.50
Organic matter, 51.79 6.00
Alumina and oxiron, 3.63 3.50
Silex, 28.20 87.50
Lime, 1.00 0.20
Magnesia, 50 .10
Potash, 07 undetermined.
No. 3 corresponds to some of our best gall berry lands, which
are low and wet ; it has a drab color, and a fine silicious base, and
is a tolerable good soil.
Another which is still more sandy, and less coherent, resembles
our gall berry soils and must rank with poor soils. It consists of:
Organic matter, 2.00
Oxide of iron and alumina, 4.00
Potash and soda, undetermined.
The organic matter of No, 6 is reduced to the minimum quantity
of excessively sandy soils.
These analyses from a distant part of our country are introduced
for th'e purpose of noticing a Dact whida is not uncommon in soils
NORTH-GAROLINA GEOLOGICAIi SUBVEY:' W
of this class. It is the occurrence of poor patches in the midst of
No. 1, which is a rich and productive soil. But these spots of bar-
renness bear the plant until it is a foot high, when it turns yellow
and dies. This kind of material is loose and chaffj ; it contains
65 per cent, of vegetable matter, but it is loose and rather coarse,
and probably furnishes one reason why vegetation dries up so
early. It is not deficient in inorganic matter, but growth requires
a body of soil which has firmness, but it is possible that these
barren places contain the astringent salts of iron and alumina.
There are several places in North-Carolina where the vegetable
matter contains an acid salt of iron, which destroys corn or any
other vegetable productions when it is placed in contact with
§ 22. A practical method for obtaining a suflScient knowledge of
the swamp soils to enable the owner or purchaser to form an
opinion of their value, and which may be performed by any person
possessed of patience and care, is by adopting a mechanical pro-
cess. Take about a pound of soil, with or without weighing, and
with water in a clean dish or saucer, and. then with the fingers rub
the mass fine ; allow it to settle, pour off the black liquid and the
matter which floats in it. This consists of vegetable matter separ-
ated from the mineral. The operation is to be repeated as long as
the water is discolored, being careful nut to pour off or waste the
soil. After several washings the fine sand}^ particles begin to
appear in all the best soils. If, however, the soil is poor, white
coarsish sand will appear in place of the gray fine material, which
characterises the Hyde county soils, or those which are similiar to
them. The operation is by no means difficult, but requires care to
save the soil when it is fine; indeed, one-third of it will probably
be lost in the most careful performance of the process, but enough
soil will be obtained to show its character even though the opera-
tion is hastily performed.
Two results, obtained mechanically, will be given in this plan.
The first is Dr. Long's soil, which had been under cultivation over
a centuiy, and the second a soil from the north-side of the lake.
Thus 100 grains, on being carefully washed by the foregoing
method, gave :
4:6 NOETH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Very fine soil, 41.0
Fine sand or soil, 18.0 grs.
Vegetable matter, 22.00
The result shows that more than one-half is very fine, the re-
mainder lens so. The soil, nnde]' the microscope, showed scales of
inica and grains of felspar, which indicate a derivation from granitic
rocks. On being heated to redness the whole becomes a drab
The soil from the plantation of Mr. Burrows, on the north side
of the lake, treated in the same way, gave:
Very fine soil, 28.40
Fine, 16.20 grs.
Vegetable matter, 47.90
The color was a light gray, and on being heated to redness was
only slightly redened. There again the loss was about one-half, as
when the vegetable matter is consumed, it leaves 44.30 per cent,
of a compound which is mostly silica, which, as in the former
specimen, is extremely fine.
§ 23. In order to show the difi^'erence between a rich soil and
one which is comparatively poor, we shall place one of the latter
in this connexion. It is from the Carteret county lands or the open
prairie. Thus, on mechanically separating the inorganic matter,
we found :
The coarse part amounted to, 27.00 grs.
The fine " " " 7.58
Organic matter, , 44.22
The fine and valuable part bears a small proportion to the coarse
which can scarcely be relied upon for furnishing nutriment.
However this may be, it is useful in assisting to give solidity to the
mass of vegetable matters.
We propose to introduce, in this connexion, the remarks of
Messrs. D. Simmons & Brother, of Hyde county, accompanying
NOETH-OAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 4^
two analyses of soils by Prof. N. B. "Webster, of Portsmouth, Va.
They were marked A and B. The first consists, according to Prof.
Moisture, when air dried, 14.00
Vegetable matter, 58.00
Silex, very fine, 14.00
Oxide of iron, . . • 03
Potash and soda, 01
We liave copied the analyses from the Korth-Carolina Farmer,
and probably there is some mistake in figures, though the appar-
ent error may lie in mistaking the quantity used in analysis.
The composition of sample B is stated as follows :
Moisture, when air dried, 13,00
Carbonaceous matter, 68.00
Oxide of iron, 03
Loss, , 4.00
The information derived from Messrs. Simmons, distinguished
for their successful farming and large crops, is as follows : The
sample A was taken from an 80 acre field, lying on the north shore
of the lake, and running back half a mile. This land had been in
cultivation about 20 years, and produces now, in a fair crop year,
10 to 12 barrels of corn per acre. The sample B was taken from a
640 acre tract, lying back of the 80 acre field. It has been in cul-
tivation five years, and produces, in a fair crop year, from 10 to 12
barrels of corn per acre. These lands lie between Matamuskeet
and Aligator lakes, four miles distant from Alligator river. Alli-
gator lake is said to be 10 miles wide and 15 long, and from 3 to 5
feet deep. It lies nearly in the centre of the county. It is sur-
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL STJKVEY.
rounded by a ridge from 4 to 6 feet above the sheet of water.
The back lands are drained into Alligator river on the north, and
into Palmico sound on the south. The cultivated lands on the
north side of Matamuskeet lake run back about two miles, and are
very uniform in quality. The north side is the best and deepest
soil. Indeed, it may be said the county is a garden spot. It has a
population of 5,000 to 6,000, and ships from 500 to 600 thousand
bushels of corn, and some 50 thousand bushels of wheat per annum,
to which may be added large quantities of peas, potatoes, &c."
§ 24. Recapitulation respecting the Hyde county soils. Their
peculiarity consists, 1st, in the extreme fineness of the soil proper,
or the inorganic matter. This is of a drab color, and shows by
itself a good composition ; that is, it proves that it does not consist
of a pure marine sand, but that it contains all the common inor-
ganic elements, iron, silica, alumina, lime, magnesia, etc. Those
which consist of marine sand alone, and which express by them-
selves barreness, have an inorganic matter which is white, and any
person of ordinary capacity will recognise this element, which,
though necessary, is not sufficient by itself to supply the wants of
vegetation ; it is simply defective in other important matters.
Acids, however, acting upon even the white sand, dissolve a
fractional part, showing the probable existence of a small quantity
of felspar intermixed ; and hence, even, in the case of the presence
of a white sand, a few crops may be grown.
The great amount of organic matter is a common characteristic ;
and its presence serves only to distinguish this class, the swamp soils
from the upland soils.
Hyde county soils show a greater capacity for endurance than
the prairie soils of Illinois ; notwithstanding the annual crop of
maize is somewhat less per acre. But on the score of location we
are unable to see that the Illinois soils have a preference. As it
regards health, Hyde county is no more subject to chills and fever
than the country of the Prairies. It is a remarkable fact that
persons live and labor in swamps with impunity, or freedom from
disease. A large amount of vegetable matter, when exposed to
the sun, usually generates miasmata, but the common mode pur-
sued for cultivation of the soils of Hyde county will not expose a
greater surface, or a greater amount of vegetable matter than is
exposed in the breaking up of prairie grounds ; and those grounds
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 'W
when jBrst exposed, or for several years disengage miasmata and
generate in the exposed inhabitants chills and fevers. Precautions
in both sections of country, no doubt, will enable persons and
families to counteract their injurious influences, in part at least, and
thereby escape the attacks of fever.
The origin of the soils of Hyde county may be traced to granitic
rocks, either granite or gneiss, whose composition is precisely
similar. Finely abraded materials being transported from the interi-
or by rivers which frequentlj^ overflowed their banks, and distri-
buted thereby the fine soil over low grounds, upon which plants
of various kinds were growing. In certain poor tracts, however,
coarse sand was admitted and distributed more rapidly, but still
over a surface supporting coarse grasses and mosses. As all of the
eastern counties were at one time submerged tracts, and received
deposits of sand while beneath the Atlantic, it has no doubt often
happened that these marine sands have been subsequently disturbed
and the sand redistributed by rivers.
§ 25. The position of the great swampy tract to which Hyde
county belongs is between the lower reaches of the Roanoke and
Palmico sound, a position which shows very satisfactorily what
must have taken place in early times when the land was a few feet
"lower than it is now. We may regard all the tracts which possess
a gray or drab colored soil as having received it from the interior,
while the clear white sands, which often appear under the micro-
scope as ground crystals, are probably derived from marine beds
which have been assorted or sifted by the action of waves. It is
by no means an uncommon circumstance that river currents, with
their burthens of comminuted rock and tides bearing forward sand
meet and commingle their contents, and some A^arieties of soil are
actually composed of the tine and coarse as if they had been mixed
in the way we have indicated.
§ 26. The principal fact we have to bear in mind is that soil mixed
with vegetable matter is absolutely necessary for the growth of
plants. The black peat, if destitute of soil, will not sustain a crop,
it necessarily perishes, and the time during which plants or crops
of the cereals can grow and perfect seeds or fruit depends directly
upon the amount of soil the peat contains combining the necessary
elements in due proportions.
50 NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAl. SURVEY.
• CHAPTER Yin.
Position of Plj'mouth. Quality of soils indicated by the growth of timber. Cost
ot drainage. Composition of four specimens of soil from the south side of
Albemarle sound. Mechanical separation of elements, etc.
§ 27. Plymouth is a place of some note upon one of the south di-
visions of the Roanoke, and above its entrance into Albemarle sound
some ten miles. It is upon the north side of the great swamp, to.
which the Hyde county lands, which have been under consider-^
In its vicinity are lands which are owned by gentlemen of
Raleigh, and who are now making inroads upon the desert swamp
in the way of drains and ditches, aided by the axe and grabbing
hoe. Their lands, which are not far from Plymouth, are in an
easterly direction, and appear, so far as externals are concerned,
closely related to those of Hyde county ; but as we have already
stated, the swamp lands of North-Carolina are as variable in com-
position as the uplands; and hence, the necessity of an analysis of
some kind to prove or determine their characteristics. It is indeed,
highly probable that there is more danger of misjudging of their
qualities by simple inspection, than of the uplands; for the vegeta-
ble matter masks their essential characteristics, or those character-
istics by which their ability to bear crops depend. It is true, that
timber in kind and quality, furnishes a clue upon which to found a
judgjnent; and following this guide, it is very probable that good
judges would make a wise choice of lands; for it is so fitting that
certain trees ot a large and portly size should grow upon a fat
land, and dwarfish ones, with stinted limbs and mossy trunks,
should belong to a lean soil, in which there is a great scarcity of
the money elements, that it seems to be be an axiom in the veg-
etable economy. It is as much established in the vegetable king-
dom as in the animal, that fatness and size is due to full feeding,
while leanness is due to a lack of nutriment, provided the organs
of assimilation are in a healthy state. We look upon the specimens
from the north of the Albemarle and Pamlico swamp as represen-
tative of that side, as they were taken from a tract of seven or
eight thousand acres. However this may be, it is necessary to
keep before us the characteristics of those lands which we know to
NORTH-CAROLINA CffiOLOGICAL SURVEY. 51
be good, and wliicli have been amply tested. We ought, however,
to bear in mind that tests by actual crops may be sutiicient
to satisty practical men, but the results of these very tesis harmo-
nize perfecfly with well known principles. To the minds of those
imbued with principles, the results are precisely what they would
have predicted, they would say a priori, what the results should be.
State the facts truly with respect to the soil, and they would pre-
dict results. We have then, two sources of imformation for our
g\i\(\e, pri7iGfples and tests hy experiment. Principles have certain
advantages over tests, as they determine for ns before hand, or
prior to the application of labor and the payment of money ; and
hence, may be resorted to when tests by experiments are not con-
venient and require more time than can be devoted to the mat-
§ 28. The first work which is necessary to subdue a swamp and
bring it under cultivation is to draw off the water by drains, and
then to kill the trees b}'' girdling. The timber when girdled is
allowed to stand until dead.
We have been unable to ascertain the expense of subduing swamp
lands by draining and clearing. In this State it is generally under-
taken by the owners of hands. The highest price we have lieard be-
ing paid is 16 cents per cubic yard for cutting deep and wide
ditches. This is more than the work will cost usually ; especially
when it is undertaken by the owner, with good hands. The task
for a smart negro is to cut 400 cubic feet per day, and one who is
industrictiis finishes it in season to save at least one full day of the
week. In draining systematically, lots are laid out in squares often
acres each; ultimately the water finds its way to the drains and leaves
the surface sufficiently dry for cultivation. It is not expected that
the surface will be dried the first season, and no profits are obtain-
ed the first two years. Corn, however, grows upon the ditches
and upon the area drained soon after the mass has settled even
among the dead trees after the underbrush is removed. In conse-
quence of the heavy expense attending the subjugation of a swamp,
it is necessary that the person who embarks in it, should possess
capital, for it is not simply the first cost which is to to be met, but
the expenditure has to remain unproductive for two or three years.
There is the cost of supporting the hands employed for the time,
the interest of the money, and perhaps the outlay for the land, all
52 nS!8SS-*oarolina geological survey.
of which, either requires cash, or good credit based upon a cash
The timber immediately shows the effect of drainage and gird-
ling, but it is not intended to appl}' the axe generally to the large
trees. The roots of the gum speedily decay. The tree is spongy
and almost like cork; and hence, rots earlier than the cypress. As
a general rule, the work of clearing is not so formidable an under-
taking as it appears it would be on the first inspection of the tow-
ering cypresses, the woods are soft and unlike the oaks, maples,
birches, beeches, etc., of a northern forest. We believe that the
cost of clearing these lands is less than those of the North, or the
well wooded uplands of the South, but we have only insufficient
data to form a correct opinion. The difficulty is, very few persons
keep a book of expenses for work of the kind, and besides, we be-
lieve that as clearing really extends over a period of many years,
it is impossible to estimate it. Nature is left to perform as much
of it as possible.
§ 29. The section from which the soils were taken, the composi-
tion of which we propose now to give, is situated upon the branches
of Kendricks creek. This short creek rises in the dismal and falls
into the south-side of Albemarle sound. The section is regarded
as a part of the Hyde county tract, and to be continuous therewith.
We shall give the composition of only four specimens, as they
seem to represent the condition and character of this part of the
swamp. The first is a brown or grayish brown color and would be
pronounced, on inspection, a fertile soil. On drying it concretes
into small lumps, which, however, are easily crushed. It shows no
sand or soil proper, the vegetable matter being in a sufficient
quantity to mask or conceal it, but being rubbed between the
fingers, or taken between the teeth, its grittiness is at once per-
ceived. The latter method of trying the swamp soil is a very
good one, as if present it will be detected and something relating
to its fineness or coarseness revealed. This is numbered 4, and on
analysis it gave :
Organic matter, 18.000
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 8.900
*» Lime, 220
NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 53
Sulphuric acid, trace.
The silex and inorganic matter is of an ash color, and it is proper
to observe in this connexion that the iron is in the condition of a
protoxide, being white when precipitated, and resembles alumina
unless it is oxidised by nitric acid. It differs from many soils in
the color of the oxide, as in some cases it has the peitoxide color
and then it is greenish. The organic matter in these cases of un-
cultivated and recently exposed soil has deoxidised it to its lowest
state of oxidation, and this fact illustrates very condusively the
influence of inorganic matter in soils. When they have become
dry and exposed to the atmospheric agents a part of the iron
becomes oxidised, but being always present in a mass of vegetable
matter it is again deoxidised under favorable conditions. A suc-
cession of changes of this kind take place which as water is
decomposed hydrogen is set free, and may, when hberated, combine
with nitrogen and form ammonia.
This variety of soil is rather upon the rim of the swamp, but it
occupies an exceeding large space. The analysis was made upon
the specimen which had not been dried in the open air, and shows
the amount of water which it naturally holds. But this large per
centage of water, it will be perceived, diminishes the ratio of the
other important elements ; and hence thctrue value of this variety
of soil is not expressed in its most favorable light.
The examination of this area of soil suggests its adaptation to
cotton. We have seen cotton growing luxuriantly and well sup-
plied with bolls on a similar soil in Carteret county. In the con-
stitution of cotton we can see no objection to a complete success
on this soil.
About one-fourth of a mile from the outer rim we find the mass
to be richer in vegetable matter or to increase in quantity towards
its interior. The specimen is black, fine grained material, but con-
tains unchanged stems of vegetables, or those but slightly blacken-
ed. It is a true peat, in most respects to the eye. We took of this
^4: NOETH-CABOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVET.
sample numbered 2, two hundred grains and found it composed
"Water, 100.000 50.000
Silex 39.000 19.500
Organic matter, 54.100 29.050
Alumina, 4.52 2.26
Peroxide of iron, 1.09 .54 »,
Lime, 781 .391
Magnesia, 160 .040
Potash, 177 .088
Soda, 088 .044
Chlorine, 090 .045
Sulphuric acid, trace. trace.
The texure of this specimen is looser than the foregoing. In dry-
ing, it concretes and forms rounded lumps which is a favorable in-
dication of its condition, ior one composed entirely of vegetable mat-
ter dries differently.
The great excess of water in this variety bears unfavorably upon
its composition provided it is not left out of the account, but it is plain
when drainage shall have had its full effect upon it, the ratio of all
the important elements will be greatly increased. Taken all in all,
this soil is rich in productive elements, and will be found equal to
any of those in Hyde county ; for as we have found by ample ob-
servation, the only draw back to a successful cultivation is the ab-
sence of soil, or inorganic matter. The necessity, however, of com-
pactness, to give roots a firm hold of the earth is important. Cer-
tain kinds of swamp lands remain loose and rather chaffy after they
are drained. It is indicative of the absence of soil proper, and
when they are exposed to sparks of ignited matter they catch fire
like tinder, and burn until extinguished by the exhaustion of com-
bustible matter or are put out by long continued rains.
§ 30. For mechanical analysis of the foregoing, 100 grains wer«
taken and carefully washed :
We obtained sand, 3.00
Very fine soil or sand, 16.25
Organic matter, 27.05
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL STJEYET. 55
There is, therefore; a great predominance of yery fine inorganic
matter in the foregoing, which is rather remarkable ; it however,
goes to sustain the opinion which has been formed of it ; tlie finely
divided matter being in suflicient abundance to last for centuries.
The first soil of which we gave the composition gives, as well be
seen, a much larger proportion of the coarser particles of soil. Thus
we obtained of:
Coarser particles, 15.00
Very fine, 41.00
Organic matter, 18.00
The coarser particles consisted of limpid quartz, mixed with fel-
spathic looking particles, the former greatly predominating. Al-
though the extremely fine particles are in part quartz, yet it is
highly probable that as felspar is softer and suffers more from abra-
sion that they are mostly felspathic, and hence, will furnish in the
dourse of time, inorganic elements as food for crops. The fine
silica in its condition of fineness is also in a state to be acted upon
by alkalies, and thereby become soluble and fitted to be taken into
the organism of plants.
The condition of a large part of the inorganic elements is to be
regarded in the light of a reason why these soils are so productive
Another specimen of swamp soil from this district, and from a
spot still farther removed from the outer rim than the preceding,
gave results somewhat different. It is numbered one, and yielded
the following elements on being submitted to analysis :
Organic matter, 16.00
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 30
Sulphuric acid, ,^. ..... . none.
56 NOETH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
The small per centage of inorganic elements in this specimen is
due to the great excess of water. If calculated dry, they would
amount to about 35 per cent., and each individual element would
be increased in proportion. But soils of this composition, es-
pecially when connected with water beneath, never become ac-
tually dry, but will contain at least from 8 to 10 per cent, of water.
This tract, with the composition then as thus indicated, will contain
inorganic matter amply sufficient for cultivation. The process of
draining in this instance had jnst begun to take effect, and hence,
the amount of water which these lands hold in their natural con-
dition is exhibited.
By mechanical separation of the parts of this soil, it gave :
Coarsish soil, mostly quartz, 1.70
Fine soil, 7.30
Were the fine soil stated in the ratio it will exist after it is per-
fectly drained and dried in the sun, the amount will be so changed
in the relative quantities, that no one wnll doubt that it can sustain
a large growth of corn, or other crops suitable to this class of soils.
The last of this series is No. 3. It consists of earthy matter in
a fine state of division, but in which we found a particle of quartz
as large as a duck shot, which is uncommon in soils of this descrip-
tion. It contains also partially decomposed sticks or wood. It
gave, on analysis, as taken from the tract, with only a slight effect
from draining :
Organic matter, 24.91
Alumina and peroxide of iron, 56
Carbonate of lime, .20
Sulphuric acid, trace.
After exposure to the air for a month it lost water, and hence
the proportion of the elements were relatively changed. The soil
as first submitted to analysis shows the large amount of water it is
capable of holding for some time after the drains have been cut.
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. m^
The following analysis shows the amount of water lost, which
certainl}'- escapes slowly as it has been exposed freely to the air in
a dry room for four weeks :
Insoluble organic matter, ; 22.00
Soluble organic matter, 10.80
Phos. lime and magnesia dissolved by carb. of am-
monia, ' 1.20
Tried mechanically for inorganic matter, it gave :
In coarsish sand or soil, , 8.50
Very fine soil, Y.50
The constitution of this whole tract, so far as the soils collected
can be relied upon, prove that it is closely allied to the Hyde
county or Matamuskeet lands. There is really no deficiency of
inorganic matter, and it is highly probable that cultivation for half
a century will improve it. One objection to soils of this descrip-
tion is the loose state of the surface from the presence of unde-
composed wood, and hence an insecure condition of maize in a
storm of wind and rain. It is highly probable that it will be im-
proved by a heavy roller, or by any measure which will give
solidity to the surface.
The Pungo tract. Gen. Blount's plantation; General description of this part o/
the Albemarle swamp, with its natural growth of timber. Bepth and compo-
sition of the soils of this section of the swamp. Mechanical separation of th»
parts of the soil. How the poor soils of this class may be improved. Tyrrell
county. The centre of the Albemarle tract highest in the centre.
§ 31. Pungo lake, a small sheet of water, is nearly tt^ centre ©f
NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
the great Albemarle and Pamlico swamp. From near this little
sheet of water numerous sluggish streams depart ; some to Albe-
marle sound, others to Pamlico, and others still, which flowing at
lirst more easterly, di-ain the centre off towards Hyde county,
where finally they take a northerly direction, and flow into Albe-
marle sound, by Alligator river. Pnngo lake appears to be the
culminating point of this great tract, where the swell of the crown
attains its maximum, and hence, it is here that we should expect
to find the most vegetable matter with the least soil.
On the Beaufort county side, or perhaps \ve should say Wash-
ington, which is its capitol, we have the north-west rim or margin.
The travelled part of this country is along the north side of the
Pamlico sound, where the land has the firmness necessary for a
road ; but a little north lies the drowned lands, which on being
traced eastwardly, carry us back to Hyde county.
Many plantations have been reclaimed from the Beaufort side,
while the attempts to work successfuly the lands about Pungo,
have not been eminently so.
The most successful planter of Beaufort county, and probably of
the State, is General Blount. He is the successful pioneer in sub-
jugating the swamps, and probably saw at an early day their great
aod intrinsic value, and has made a large fortune by their cultiva-
tion, and is now the owner of 50,000 acres. It is true, the pro-
ductiveness of the Matamuskeet lands was indicative of the nature
of other swamps, but still it seems to have been held that they
were very peculiar and confined, and that planters need not expect
equal advantages out of this region, and it has taken time to satisfy
the public that rich lands of this class exist elsewhere. What has
contributed very considerably to depreciate their value have been
the failures to cultivate the poorest tracts, and the management of
experiments to determine something satisfactory to owners has
often been trusted to incompetetent parties.
§ 32. The specimens which have been submitted to analysis for
the purpose of determining the character oi* the dismal upon its
southern margin, or northwestern margin, if we depart from Ply-
mouth, were procured from Gen. Blount's plantation. The exami-
nation of so large a field rendered it necessary to select samples
from known places. It is not, however, possible to carry such in-
vestigations over the w^ola ground* A lite time would 'scaroejy
NORTH-CABOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
suffice for this. Neither do we deem it necessary ; for, though
there are several kinds of soil which possess marked differences in
their composition, yet, there would be unnecessary repetitions of
facts; for it seems to us there are only a few points which require
to be fully established, though they should be placed before those
who are any ways interested, in such a ligh,t, that these points may
be determined by themselves.
§ 33. Gen. Blount's plantation is at Madisouville, 12 miles from
Washington, and is located upon the margin of the swamp. The
general run of the timber is black gum, of which there is a heavy
growth in many places, large poplars and maples, which are usual-
ly scattering, and short leaved pines ; and when the land falls off
in fertility, there is a growth of laurels.
The depth of the vegetable covering, rarely exceeds thirty inch-
es. Its general appearance is much the same as that of all lands of
this class, being black, wet and spongy, while in their natural con-
dition. Thej are based upon a subsoil which is argillaceous, but
not so close and compact as to retain the water.
The crops have not been confined to corn. Oats, though not
eminently productive, have succeeded very well ; the poorest fields
yielding from 30 to 40 bushels per acre. In seasons less favorable
for this grain, it falls to 20 bushels per acre. The corn crop has
averaged forty-five bushels to the acre. Gen. Blount states in a
letter published in the report for 1858, that he had raised one hun-
dred and twenty bushels of corn to the acre on a plantation in
Hyde county. This result is one which is not surprising, and it
shows the lands of this class are fully equal in productiveness to
the prairie lands of Illinois, of which we have- given some account
in a preceding paragraph.
Another fact mentioned by Gen. Blount is of great importance,
is that for the forty years, during which he has been a resident up-
on this class of lands, the health of his family, white and black, will
compare favorably with the healthiest locations in Eastern North-
Only four specimens from Gen. Blount's plantation have been
ISfo. 1. Is a dark soil, and has a depth of twenty inches, resting
upon a suUsoil with argillaceous matter, but not sufficient in quanti-
ty- to form an imprerviotis mass. It is ihtermixed with sand. The
Qfk NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVHY.
land bore a heavy growth of black gum, with poplars, maples and
a few laurels, and in which there was a mixture of the short leaved
pine. It bore 50 bushels of corn to the acre, and had been under
cultivation three years. It gave on analysis :
Hunic acid or soluble organic matter, 2.30
Insoluble organic matter, 23.70
Oxide of iron and alumina, 4.920
Carbonate of lime, 0.490
Phosphoric acid, 0.003
Sulphuric acid, trace.
It has a fine drab colored inorganic matter, with a due propor-
tion of oxide of iron and alumina. The proportion of the alkalies
and phosphoric acid appear to be small ; and yet, the growth of
timber indicates a high grade of fertility.
A mechanical separation of the essential parts of this specimen
of soil gave :
Very fine soil, or sand, 50.00
Coarser soil or sand, '..... 20.60
Organic matter, 26.00
It had been exposed to the air several weeks, and had become
dry, but soils of this description still retain from six to eight per
cent, of water. Mixed with the organic matter we found small
pieces of decayed wood, bark, roots, &c. The earthy part was
invisible, an important fact, for we may always regard sucli speci-
mens as containing it in a very fine state of division, and favorable
No. 2 was taken from an unreclaimed part of the marsh. The
depth of soil is two feet. Subsoil contains sufficient clay to check
materially the percolation of water, and resists the introduction of
the spade. The consequence of this impervious state is, that the
surface has always been wet, and more so than in No. 1. The
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
vegetable growth consists of reeds, which stand very thick. The
pines are small and sickly, and intermixed with the former are
gall berries and red and white bay bushes. The soil is supposed
to have been burnt over in former times, as large stumps of charred
pine still remain. After heavy rains the surface is nearly covered
with water. It is, however, susceptible of drainage. On submit-
ting this soil to analysis it gave :
Organic matter, 18.000
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 3.000
Phosphoric acid, 0.021
Carbonate of lime, 0.049
This specimen was nearly dry before it was weighed. It pre-
served its water a long time, and after several months exposure to
the air, in an open box, it contained 15 per cent, of water. It
contained rather fresh and half charred roots, with bark and wood,
but its texture was compact, not spong3\
The separation of its parts mechanicallj^ gave :
Very fine sand, 55.545
Fine sand, 15.000
Organic matter, 18.000
No. 3 has been cleared for ten years, and has been regarded as
second rate swamp land. The growth of laurels is greater, and
fewer poplars and gums than No. 1. For ten years in succession
it has been cultivated in corn, and produced, in its prime state,
forty bushels to the acre. The last crop was only thirty. A crop
of oats followed, with a yield of twenty bushels to the acre. The
soil will average 18 inches in depth. The specimen for analysis
was taken from a part of the Held which is regarded as the poorest,
or from that part of the field which produced the poorest oats. It
^ NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Vegetable matter, 12.800
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 4.100
Carbonate of lime, 0.020
Phosphoric acid, trace.
The color of this soil is of a dark gray, and had become dry in
the box beside No. 2, which remained wet. It is light and pulver-
ulent, though it forms loose concretions in drying.
The quantity of silex is quite large for this class of soils, and
some of the most important elements of growth exist in small
proportions. There is quite a contrast between this specimen and
No. 1, or between it and the best Hyde county soils.
The foregoing sample of soil is one which would be greatly im-
j roved by the use of marl. It has a large stock of organic matter,
and hence large dressings, if thought advisable, could be used
without injury. The labor and expense of enriching soils of this
description is much less than when they are nearly destitute of
soil or inorganic matter, and it is no doubt true that all the peaty
soils which begin to be delicient in the inorganic elements may be
brought up to the best class of soils by the use of marl alone, for
in the use of this fertilizer more than one good result is secured.
In the first place the necessary elements, lime, magnesia, iron and
phosphoric acid are added to it, and in the second place marl con-
solidates the mass, an improvement which most swamp lands require.
No. 4 has a depth of 3 feet and rests on a sandy clay, and allows
the percolation of water. The timber is very large, black gums
from one to two feet in diameter at the stump, and fifty to sixty to
the limbs, with straight bodies; the limbs form an angle of about
30° to the axis of the trunk. Poplars with large trunks are not
uncommon, mixed with maples in keeping with the former as to
size and thriftiness, and cypresses, averaging from 8 to 10 to the acre
and from two and a half to four feet and a half in diameter at the
stump ; the bodies are straight, and the limbs form an angle with
the trunk of 40°, and first appear at the hight of one hundred feet.
This tract is uncultivated. Its soil is composed of:
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL STJKVET. W
Or^anio matter, 15.400
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 6.900
Phosphoric acid, 062
Sulphuric acid, 180
The mechanical separation of its parts gave :
Very fine sand, 60.00
Fine soil, 25.50
Organic matter, 15.40
The sand is not coarse, but rather fine, and (quartzose) of a gray
color. Tt is very uniform in size in all the specimens.
This tract probably contains tlie best land of the section. It is
black in color and contains partially decayed roots, bark and wood.
The timber, depth of soil and its composition, indicate a soil
probably equal in fertility to any in the eastern counties. The
silicious matter is fine, and of a drab color. Portions of this soil,
after drying in the air, were exposed to the heat of an oven having
a temperature of 300°, and lost 34 per cent, of water.
It appears to be established from many observations and experi-
ments relative to the swamp lands, that much depends upon the
iineness of the soil intermixed with the vegetable matter ; for
when there is a perceptible coarseness of all the particles, the land
will not bear cultivation many years. It will be deficient in
elements which ai-e always large enough in uplands, as the oxides
of iron and alumina. The soil too, will be found to cons'st of
quartz or flint, similar to that of beach sand. This variety dries
readily, and is liable to become chaffy, or if the vegetable matter
is fine, the quartz soon sliows through the white ground in which
it is imbedded ; where, on the contrary, the earthy matter is fine,
it retains moisture and bears the drouths of summer without suf-
fering. In certain combinations of soil elements, extreme fineness
64 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
may be a defect; it may be too impervious to the air, and so light
as to be blown away with high winds. Sncli cases belong to that
class of soils where the vegetable matter is comparatively small.
But in swamp soils extreme fineness, instead of being an objection,
is an advantage,
§ 84, The high esteem in which swamp lands begin to be held
should not blind the eyes of their admirers to the fact, that like
other lands, they will show the effects of bad treatment after a
while; and it may, indeed, does turn out, that they become at least
partially exhausted after several years of cultivation. When it is
found that the quantity of Indian corn per acre is steadily falling
off, while the seasons are favorable, it is a warning to the planter
that he is taxing his land too much, and it requires rest, or some
mcdification of treatment.
Experience proves that guano acts admirably upon these lands
when they are becoming exhausted, and no doubt the vegetable
matter still remaining has much to do with the beneficial effects of
Marl also acts very favorably, and it is one of those kind adjust-
ments which brings these lands and marl in juxtaposition.
The favorable action of guano must in part depend upon the
ready absorption of its ammonia by the vegetable matter, a fact
■which is well established. There is, therefore, less loss or less
liability of losing this important element when used upon these
lands, than upon uplands, where the vegetable matter is generally
small, rarely exceeding five or six per cent,, and often reduced to
two or three.
We see, (m comparing swamp lands with sandy ones in this re-
spect, especially those of the kind which often occur in the eastern
counties that, in the latter, the use of guano is rather precarious, much
dependii^g upon seasonable rains or showers. On swamp lands,
again, neither guano nor marl are liable to burn the crop.
When, therefore, lands which have a constitution similar to those
of Beaufort, Washington and others, it seems to be conceded that
they are less liable to suffer from the irregularities of our climate
than the best class of uplands.
§ 35. That part of the Albemarle and Pamlico swamp which
extends into Tyrrell county, appears to rank onlj'- as second rate
soil; but it. is only upon the Croatan sound that we have made
NOETH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. D®?'
examinations, and hence we may have formed an erroneous opinion
of a part of this great tract. We know that tliere are lands of this
class which are cnhivated successfully and witli profit, but how
they rank, when compared with Hyde, Washington and Beaufort
counties, our data are insufficient for forming a satisfactory opinion.
§ 36. The centre of this great tract is higher tiian the margins,
and we believe this plienomenon to be due to a growth of vegetable
matter, and it will probably turn out that at the surface there will
be a deficiency of soil, or a great excess of tb.e vegetable element.
If this conjecture is true it will be liable to take fire from the
carelessness of hunters, and even to occur when the common pre-
cautions have been taken to prevent it. Much, however, is to be
expected from a better drainage than has yet been obtained.
When this has been obtained there will be a great change in the
upper part or surface, the loose vegetable matter will shrink to
half of its present bulk, and if in the early times of the formation
soil accummulated with the vegetable growth the surface may
undergo so great a change by depression that the roots of crops
may be brought within striking distance of the soil below.
Bay river District, composition of its soil. The 4th District of swamp lands. The
open prairie of Carteret County, composition of its soils, change effected bj
drainage. Inorganic matter increases with the depth of soil.
§ 37. Bay river district of swamp lands is included between the
I6wer reaches of Pamlico and Neuse rivers, or between their forks
as they unite to form Pamlico sound. Bay river is intermediate
between these two rivers.
This district is much smaller than the preceding or the Albe-
marle. It has the same general characteristics; a flat country,
with swamps interrupted by hard ground, which generally extends
along, and not far from the estuaries of the Pamlico and ISTense.
PP NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
The only specimen of the Bay river lands, which we have pre-
served for analysis, cannot be distinguished from those of the other
districts. It is separated mechanically into the three distinct parts,
and furnishes proportions, or ratios, quite similar to the best swamp
One hundred grains gave, of coarsish sand, 23.0 parts.
Very fine sand, 17.0 "
Organic matter, 55.0 "
Water, 5.0 "
§ 38. The partly chemical and partly mechanical analysis, gives
a result corresponding to those of the other districts which are
known to hold a high rank.
The principal point which requires to be brought out and prov-
ed is, the proportion of soil existing in the mass of the peaty mat-
ter, inasmuch as when this is proved, it has been found to possess
the same complexity of composition as any soil from the midland
counties; that is, it is found to contain iron, alumina, lime, magne-
sia, potash, etc., though like much of the soil of the eastern coun-
ties, the relative proportion of silex may be greater. It seems from
this fact, and the character of the deposites in all the eastern coun-
ties, that formerly, the state of the river currents and other agents,
performed the same functions that they now do-, and much in the
same manner; they transported the abraded materials from the
upper country, assorted them, and disposed of them as the same
rivers, currents, agents, &c., now do upon our coast.
§ 39. The 4:th district of swamp lands, lying between the lower
reaches of the !N^euse and Core sound, is elongated westwardly and
comparatively narrow for its length. It furnishes the same varie-
ties of soil as the preceding, passing from those which rank as num-
ber one, to number three, or those which are too poor to hold out
inducements to clear them, in the present relative value of landed
property. Indeed this country furnishes such a vast acreage of
tillable land that even second rate lands will remain uncultivated
except when their locations for market are extremely favorable.
We ought to take their adaptations into consideration ; for certain
lands which rank only as second or third rate for corn, or wheat,
may pay very large profits if planted with Irish potatoes. Certain
NOKTH-CAKOLINA (GEOLOGICAL SUKYET. W
tracts of poor lands answer well for pasturflge, sheep husbandry,
etc. It is rare indeed, that we can justly say of this or that piece
of land, that it is good for nothing. These remarks are applicable
to the tract which we propose now to consider. We shall confine
our remarks to that part of this district which is included in Carte-
ret county. We have not attempted to give exact boundaries of
swamp lands. It would be impossible in the present condition of
the State surveys. When large districts are marked upon any ot
the best maps, it would be adopting an error to regard their boun-
daries as correctly drawn. The swamps are connected by strips of
narrow belts, and swell out irregularly, and hence, may be consid-
ered as forming one tract, but their shape or form is extremely
irregular, and most plantations have their swampj'^ parts, though
thej' are principally upland.
§ 40. It is a matter of little consequence, however, whether
a tract of this class is large or small ; the general characterics will
be those of the large areas ; their composition will agree, and their
qualities will belong to one standard, or, they will rank in the same
grade according to the amount of inorganic matter which they con-
§ 41. The great tract in Carteret, generally known as the open
prairie, is a marsh or swamp, mostly destitute of trees; and hence,
the area which is exposed to view is more than ten miles in length
and breadth. But the entire tract, has an area more than two hun-
dred square miles. In this tract, there is a continuity of swamp,
ranging somewhat in condition, depth of mud, and solidity of sur-
face, but it is all swamp in reality. It furnishes a growth of coarse
grasses over its whole surface, or that part which is open to the
sun. This tract is surrounded by a piney ridge which has a sandy
soil and bears moderately large, long leaved pines. But the im-
mediate border is so thickly overgrown with briers, reeds, bam-
boos, and other ugly bushes, that it is at the expense of a man's
coat, pantaloons and shir'r, if he forces his way through them. This
outside hedge is twenty rods wide in many places, and even wider
in others. Since improvements, however, on a small scale have
been undertaken by means of ditching, the access to the open
grounds is easy and safe.
This tract should be described under two divisions, the outside
briery border, and the grassy open part. The first is much the
im NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
least in area, but it is #f considerable importance, asit is land which
has a high intrinsic worth.
"We visited this tract in 1852, in April, by the direction of the
Board of Education. The time proved very unfavorble for con-
ducting the examination. The' prairie was filled with water and
the facilities for getting over it. were only clumps of grassy knowles
which stood above the water. It w^as soft and yielding to the foot
every where else, and was easily penetrated to a depth of between
five to ten feet.
During this visit, we procured specimens of the surface from a
depth of eighteen inches, When brought up, they were spongy
and black, and consisted mostly of vegetable fibre, undergoing the
common changes incident to swamp grounds. But the examina-
tion was not satisfactory, and could not be from the circumstances
under which it was made. The question, however, for decision
was, whether the composition of the soil of the swamp held out en-
couragements for expenditure for draining it, or if drained, could
it be cultivated with profit ? The surveys of this great tract prove
that it may be laid dry ; it is from 12 to 15 feet above storm tide.
The drainage is into Core sound and Neuse river, and is higher
in the middle than its borders. The largest or heaviest drainage
is into the Neuse. The position of the open ground prairie with
respect to water access and removal of products is very favorable,
and if this tract was under cultivation, all parts of it would find
convenient points for reaching the deep waters of this river.
The soil of the rim of the open prairie is richly constituted. On
submitting a sample to analysis it gave :
Organic matter, 52.700
Per oxide of iron and alumina, 2.000
Carbonate of lime, 1.000
Sulp. acid, trace.
HORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUEVEY. 69
§ 42. This part of the tract furnishes a black vegetable mass
from three to live feet deep; it is homogeneous and contains com-
paratively few fibres in an undecomposed state. Bj experiment
it produced excellent Irish potatoes, and a growth of corn stalks
and leaves, which, in consequence of late planting and inattention,
bore no ears. The seed was planted the 20th of June, and the
weeds were allowed to have their way, but the result proved that
the crop did not fail in consequence of the unfavorable constitution
of the soil. When corn is planted in peat destitute of soil it grows
to the hight of a foot and then dies. The stalks, however, were
well developed and well supplied with leaves, and grew to the
hight of 10 feet. Hence, it is probable that had the corn been
planted in season and properly hoed it would have borne fruit.
However, there never has been much doubt respecting the border
soil, its rank vegetation furnishes testimony quite conclusive.
Mechanical separation gave :
Coarsish soil, 7.00
Fine soil, 25.50
Organic matter, 52.70
It, therefore, contains a large per centage of very fine soil, and
which is well adapted to the growth of crops.
§ 43. The piney ridge which forms a border still higher than the
prairie has a soil more sandy than the preceding, and is regarded
a second rate land of this class. It gave, on analysis :
Organic matter, 8.58
Silex, mostly sand, 78.20
Per oxide of iron and alumina, 3.82
Carb. of lime, 3.80
Separated mechanically it gave :
Coarsish sand, 17.20
Fine soil, 16,00
lH NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKYEY.
§ 44. The foregoing famishes nothing important any farther than
the fact that tlie immediate surroundings of the prairie the soil
differs in no respect from the common soils of this region of coun-
try. A change, however, is immediately recognised on passing
within the piney ridge, especially that of the open gi-ounds.
Since an important drainage has been effected by a ditch about
four feet deep, and extending one mile from the outer rim, the
ground has settled about 18 inches over an area of about half a
square mile. It was near the drained part that our soils were taken
in 1852. Upon this part, or the drained part, three small patches
of corn were planted last year. The two outer pieces were upon
the part from which our first specimen of soil was taken, and in
the same piece with the corn, beans, and Irish potatoes were grown
which ripened well. The piece of corn upon the open prairie and
about three-quarters of a mile from the outer rim was not equal in
size and vigor to that nearer the outside ; still, considering all the
circumstances, the experiment ought to be regarded as successful,
though we do not believe this tract adapted to the growth of corn.
From this patch, and from the bottom of the most vigorous corn
hill, we took a specimen of soil for examination. It had the follow-
ing composition :
Organic matter, 60. 62
Inorganic matter, 2. 60
It can hardly be maintained that so small a quantity of inorganic
matter would have sufficed for the existence of corn -of the size we
found it in September, and the only solution which can be given
of the fact is that the roots penetrated to the subsoil which con-
tains a much larger per centage of inorganic matter.
This view is sustained by the character of the soil which appears
in the middle of the ditch not more than 10 feet from the place
where the com grew, and about 12 to 14 inches deeper than the
specimen just referred to.
Thus the soil of the middle of the ditch, under the vegetable
coating, gave on analysis :
NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 71
Organic matter, i 46.22
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 2. 60
Carb. of lime, 2.60
The meclianical separation of parts gave :
Coarse sand, 27.00
Fine soil, 11.58
Organic matter, 46.22
§ 4:5. Not far removed tlieu from the surface soil there fs a de-
posit consisting of organic and inorganic matter in due pro-
portions, and within the reach of the roots of corn and other
plants. The soil being light presents no obstacle to their penetra-
tion below, and indeed are invited there by a greater amount of
moisture since the drainage began. The sand in the middle part
of the ditch and elsewhere probably, is distributed irregularly.
We find it as it were in nests, but there is still in the vegetable part
a fine soil to the amount we have stated. We were unable to pro-
cure soil in 1852 from this depth, though in sounding we always
found what appeared to be a sandy deposit. Since the surface has
settled by drainage, the upper part has as it were diminished gi-eat-
ly in thickness and seemingly in quantity, but it is really only in
bulk. It has become compact. The coarse sand is of a granitic
origin, as, it contains felspar and mica, a fact which holds out an
improved prospect of its fertihty being lasting.
We would not advise an attempt of raising corn upon the prairie
grounds. We believe the Irish potatoe will prove the most profi-
table crop, especially so long as they find a ready sale at the price
of from $1.50 lo $2.00 per bushel. Irish potatoes can be raised at
a cost of only ten cents per bushel, at which price they become
profitable for the manufacture of starch. But so long as they bear
so high a price, starch making, though a simple process, would be
out of the question. The quality of the potatoe grown upon the
prairie is really superior to the northern groMiih, or to such varie-
72 ' NOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVEY.
ties as find tlieir way to this State, being mealy and entirely free
from a strong taste or odor. Tiiey would also be employed if cheap-
er for fattening swine, as they make a superior meat when the fat-
tening is completed by the use of corn meal.
The composition of the soil at the bottom of the ditch differs es-
sentially from the foregoing. It contains :
Organic matter, 6.60
Peroxide of iron, 1,30
Carbonate of lime, 3.00
■ ' 98.87
§ 46. A result similar to that which is brought out strongly in
this analysis seems to be one, which is general, or common to all
soils of this class. It is the steady increase of soil in quantity, pro-
portionate to the depth. At the top, it is at its minimum ; in the
stratum from one foot to twenty inches below, it has sensibly in-
creased ; and near the bottom, it is in quantity equal in amount to
the upland soils, though more silicious. There the top of the soil
has only between 2 and 3 per cent, of soil ; it is really the ash
of the vegetable matter. Eighteen inches deeper, and we find 34
per cent., and at the depth of 4 feet^ it has increased to 79 per cent.
Considering the character of the soil, we regard these facts as
important, for there is really no obstacle to the penetration of roots
to this depth when the body of soil is drained. We often find
roots penetrating still deeper, and in a stiffer medium by far than
this. It is essential, however, that stagnant water should be re-
moved, and that no layers of earth and vegetable matter contain-
ing astringent salts be left undrained ; and if existing should be
neutralized by the use of lime or marl. We may also observe that
the organic matter continues to the depth of four feet, but it di-
minishes about in the same ratio that the inorganic increases, but
its presence is important, as it keeps the mass porous, and if air
penetrates thus far it is acted upon and furnishes the usual products
for the growth of a crop. .
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 73
But in the middle of the large swamps, the vegetable covering
is much thicker than upon the borders, and hence may be, and no
doubt is, too thic'c to permit the roots to reach a bottom, or layer
charged with soil. How much deep draining will effect in consoli-
dating the surface after a sufficient lapse of time for drying and
increasing its solidity, has not yet been determined by trial. We
have found in some samples 100 per cent, of water remaining af-
ter the soil had been exposed two weeks to the air. While vege-
table matter is thus soaked, or permeated with water, its bulk is
greatly swollen ; and hence, when removed by thorough draining,
and it will also shrink excessively and probably not occupy more
than one third of its former bulk; its diminution of bulk, will no
doubt in many cases render the soil accessible to the roots of
In the Albemarle district and adjoining the tract, and indeed
forming a part of it, there is an open prairie quite similar to the
Carteret in general appearance. It lies towards Pungo lake, or a
little to south-east of the creek. It is called the burnt lands from
the common opinion of the inhabitants, that it has been burnt over,
when its timber was destroyed. It is regarded also as having been
prior to this period a juniper swamp. At present its vegetable
productions are limited to a few scattering bushes which do not in-
terfere with a wide view over the whole field for many miles in all
■directions. To the eye the surface soil scarcely differs from that of
adjoining productive tracts. But the prevalent opinion is that it
will prove a barren field after a few inferior crops are harvested.
We have only separated the parts of the soil taken from near the
surface. It is black and slightly gritty between the teeth, and
evidently consists of vegetable matter to a great extent.
On being mechanically divided, it gave :
Coarsish quartzose sand, 1,70
Fine, or very fine soil, 4.10
Vegetable matter, 27.2
Tliis separation gives a small per centage only of soil, but as the
tspecimen was fresh from th^ field, and contaioed a large propor<
74 NOSTH-OAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
tion of water. The 67 per cent, which, it holds before draining,
will afterwards be diminished about two-thirds ; and hence, the
quantity of fine soil will be relatively increased. We should also,
take into the account the increase of soil in depth, and within strik-
ing distance of the roots of crops, which will come in aid of the
planter. Without spending time in a conjecture whether the burnt
district can be profitably cultivated, as it is, it will aid us in making
up a judgment before hand to compared it with another on its
growth of timber in its vicinity, and whose soil is externally iden-
tical in character. It is a tract situated near or upon McRae's ca-
nal. This tract is remarkably heavily timbered. The trees consist
of black and. white gum, cypress, the long and short leaved pine
here and there, and all are large. Among them is the red maple,,
which is regarded as a sure indication of a productive soil, when as^
sociated with the foregoing.
The composition of this soil, as determined mechanically is as.
Coarsish quartzose sand, ,. ^ ....... S.ffO'
Fine soil, 5.0O
Organic matter, 20.70
It appears that a soil of the foregoing composition, with only 8,50
per cent, of inorganic matter bears large forest trees and those-
which all regard as indicative of a productive soil ; and indeed,
which has proved to be such when brought into cultivation. The
differences then between the two soils, the burnt lands, and the
canal tract, are only slight ; and it appears to us, that an attempt
to cultivate the former is warranted by all the facts which have
come to our knowledge. The differences do not seem to be so
wide, at any rate, that one shauld be set down as barren and worth-
less, while the other,, is regarded by all as an exceedingly valuable
The same remarks apply to the open prairie of Carteret, though
not so forcibly, yet w^e have sufficient indication that it will be pro-
ductive of a number of crops when it is properly drained and at-
NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. T5
Composition of soils towards Beaufort. Composition of Mr. Sefton's swainp
land. Adams creek soils, Craven county. Dover swamp Craven county.
Its hight above Newbern, Composition of its soil.
§ 47. The open prairie is at present a wilderness, but towards
Beaufort raanj^ plantations are located upon the main road leading
to these lands, and which include portions of it which are regarded
as highly valuable. Several tracts, from four to six miles from
Beaufort, liave been examined.
Of these, Mr. Sefton's furnishes probably as fair a representation
of the character of this part of the Carteret swamp, as any. The
timber is all large and thrifty, consisting of cypress and black and
white gum, mainly, with water oak and the long and short leaved
pines. The part from which the sample of soil was taken has been
in tillage two years, and had at the time a crop of com unhar-
vested, which from estimation by the owner, would give fifty
bushels to the acre. It is black, but shows sand within one foot of
the surface. The specimen taken was from a depth of eight inches,
and from the corn field alluded to. It gave, on analysis :
Water and organic matter^ 20.000'
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 4.400
Carbonate of lime, ., . . 1.700
Magnesia, . .IVO
Potash,. . .086
The sample had become dry "by exposure to the air for tEree
months. It contained a trace of ammonia in 1,000 grains. Upon
a part of this tract whieh had been in cultivation for several years,
fine looking cotton was growing. It was late planted, but the trial
was regarded as highly successful, and it will probably turn out
that the best soil for cotton are those of the half worn ones which
originally were rich in vegetable matter. On such lands there
would be a great saving in fertilizers. Mechanical separation of.
its parts, gave ;
76 NORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVICT.
Coarsish sand, 43.2
Fine soil, 30.0
The coarsish sand is all quartz, and it is visible in the dry speci-
men, and is easily detected in the wet, by its gritty feel. Still,
there is a stock of fine matter sufficient for all the wants of vege-
tables. The vegetable matter, as usual, increases in depth towards
the central part of the swamp, and the growth of cypress and
black gums is also greater in this direction than upon the margin.
§ 48. Immediately opjtosite to the section of land which has been
drained, and the soils of which have been under consideration, ie
Adams creek, in Craven county. The principal branches of Adams
creek rise in the crowning part of the open prairie, and if pro-
longed would interlock with the branches which form the North
river on the Beaufort side. We have the soils at this time from
the banks of Adams creek, and have made several analyses of
them to that extent which will serve as a basis on which we may
found a judgment of their merits.
We did not deem it necessary to make a minute analysis as in
other soils, and it seemed sufficient to do enough to enable us to
make a comparison of their qualities with those of the North river
a8,"v^e.l-i as those from other swamp lands. The first is evidently a
mixture of organic matter with fine and coarse sand and other
elements brought out by analysis. It gave :
, Organic matter, 29.00
Alamipa, and iron, , 4-40
Carbonate,of lime, 0.35
Magnesia, : 0.13
Water, ... . '.-. 11.00
A mechanical sep^r^tjipa^^ve:
Rather qo^rsish sand, 43.00
! Fine soil or saind, 28.40
1 Organic matter, 29.00
TliisBoil ha^, become drj ib^ exposure to the air, and much less
NOBTH-CAEOLESrA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. T7
water was obtained than is usual from swamp soils, and where
there is as much inorganic matter as in this specimen, the drying
bj common exposure is more complete and rapid than where it
has less. The sand is white quartz. It appears that the sand of
the open prairie of Beaufort is coarser than that of the Albemarle
district, but it is intermixed with a quantity, 16 per cent, of fine
Another soil from Adams Creek differs from the foregoing, as
will be seen in the larger quantity of sand and less vegetable
matter. It is gray and gritty, and harsh to the feel, and was taken
from beneath the covering of organic matter. On submitting it
to analysis, it gave :
Organic matter, 8.00
Silex, *. 82.58
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 2.82
Carbonate of lime, 50
We have been able to obtain a small amount of potash in all
the soils we have examined, from the swamp lands. It is dimin-
ished to a small fraction wherever the sandy element is so large.
A mechanical separation of its parts gave :
Coarse sand, ■. 56.2
Fine soil or sand, 29.0
Organic matter, 8.0
In another specimen, the organic matter was only 3.22, water 6,
silex 88.78, alumina and peroxide of iron 2.60.
The Adams creek district seems not to want inorganic matter at
all ; they have, indeed, rather an excess, and ^oo little vegetable
matter. To account for this fact, it seems that the Craven side of
the great marsh must have been nearer to the source from whence
the sandy matter was derived, and though none of it is what would
not ordinarily be regarded as coarse sand, yet it is coarser than
78 NORTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
that of l^orth river. There may have been a direct communica-
tion with the ISTeuse in former times, and by means of that com-
munication the sandy matter was supphed. The coarse is always
nearer the source from where it came. The fine is transported
farther and is deposited slowly ; facts which may be witnessed in
all heavy showers where currents are formed with suflScient force
to move the loose materials upon the surface.
§ 49. The Dover swamp, lying north of Newborn, in Craven
county, is about fifteen miles long. It is about 60 feet above
Newbei'n, and 30 or 35 above Kinston.
So far as its character is shown by the roads which pass through
it, it is a poor tract.
A single representative only of its soil will be given in the fol-
lowing analysis. The soil is black, and to the eye it may be re-
garded as ranking high in the scale of merit, but where the black
vegetable mold is cut, and has been exposed to washing by rains,
they have brought out mechanically its characteristics. The veg-
etable matter is mixed with a white marine sand, which is exposed
upon the face of ihe cut; an exhibition of this kind is never wit-
nessed in soils suitable for cultivation. An analysis of a soil rep-
resenting the Dover class, gave :
Organic matter, 25.22
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 0.76
Carbonate of lime, . ." 0.01
The specimen had become dry by exposure to the air in paper,
and hence, the small quantity of water. The sand is white, and
nearly pure quartz, and only a small per centage could be dissolved
out by the action of muriatic acid. When this specimen is com-
pared with those of the Albemarle swamp, which seemed to lack
inorganic matter, a great difference is easily discovered in the
Dover swamp representative; the water was reduced to the lowest
standard; it was much drier than it ever will be by draining. In
the Dover representative there are really only two elements, white
NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL STJRVEY. 79
sand and vegetaole matter. If water is added, the sum of the
three amounts to 98.43, leaving only 1.57 for the active or soluble
elements, and still the Dover swamp is covered with vegetation,
though it is not vigorous and healthy. It is no doubt, supported in
a great measure, by the subsoil and the elements derived from the
If a farmer, however, should drain and put it requisition for corn
■or wheat, it would not answer to the call. It is not to be under-
stood that we speak thus confidently of the whole tract, and it is
highly probable that rich places exist. The most we wish to incul-
•cate is that where the soil consists of vegetable matter intermixed
with white or gray quartz sand, there is but a small ground for hope
that the tract will pay the expense of drainage. The foregoing
views as intimated in the foregoing paragraphs receive support
from the consideration that .76 per cent, of per oxide of iron and
alumina cannot furnish for a lapse of years sufiicient phosphoric acid
to sustain the cereals, it is at least evident, that the available mat-
ter for divers crops is extremely small. The practical per centage
of important elements, cannot exert a chemical or mechanical in-
fluence upon the organic matter.
We confess, however, that we do not know the nature of the
subsoil, it will probably turn out that the forest trees derive their
support from the stiff subsoil on which the silicious vegetable mat-
ter rests. There are many points m which the swamp soils differ
from the true peat of the ITorthern States and Canada. A very
reliable analysis of a kind of peat found in Canada by Mr. Hunt
of the Canada Geological survey may be cited. Thus, Mr. Hunt
found 6.75 per cent;0of ash, and it should be observed that it is not
soil, as in. most eases of the swamp peat of the South but a true a,sh
of the vegetable matter, and hence, its composition must partake
of that of an ordinary ash ; and hence, it is found to consist of large
per cents., viz : of carb. of lime 52.41 ; sulphate of lime 15 ; sulphate
of potash 0.60 ; lime and magnesia as silicates, &c., to the amount
of 13 per cent. The peaty soils of the South, or certainly of ISTorth-
Carolina consist of intermixtures of fine inorganic matter to a large
extent, and though the top is essentially vegetable matter, yet the
soil increases continually, or if th^ areas as indicated before had
communications with rivers from which they received sediments,
whereas, in the ISTorth the peat is formed in isolated basin-shaped
§P NOKTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
excavations, which have been filled up by t|»e growth of moss, or
sphagnum, etc., and were of course separated from rivers or streams
bearing sediments from a distance.
§ 50. The Onslow and Jones swamp, which appear to be con-
nected with the great Carteret open-ground prairie and swamp,
has an area of over one hundred square miles. The White Oak
river rises in it, together with New river, both of which empty
into Bogue sound, or Bogue and Stumpy sounds. Short branches
rising in this tract, fall into the Trent. The slope is mainly
towards Bogue sound. This great tract is easily drained, being
formed upon comparatively high ground. Portions of it have
been under cultivation, and the produce in corn has been from ten
to twelve barrels per acre. Upon the branches of the White Oak
the timber is large, consisting of poplar, cypress, black and white
gum and red maple. Other parts are covered with reeds which
furnish subsistence to stock during the winter. The surface of the
swamp is more or less interrupted by dry islands, which bear large
long and short leaved pines. White oaks abound of a large size,
where it is not too wet. Some of the islands, as they are called,
have a light sandy soil, and seem to have been formed by the
action of M'ater. The only canal for drainage which we have in-
spected, was cut by Mr. Franck, of Onslow county. It crossed a
part of the tract called the White Oak desert. This, on being cut
one mile, gave a water power of about twelve feet. Its cost was
fifteen cents to the cubic yard. The depth of soil varies from one
to twelve feet, the depth increasing towards the central part of ihe
The general characteristics of this swamp are the same as those
which have already received attention. Tire composition, as de-
termined by analysis, may be stated as follows:
Organic matter, 25.00
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 11.050
Phosphoric acid, 0.312
Carbonate of lime, 1.500
Soda, : 0.020
Silicic acid, 0.100
NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 81
The machanical separation of parts gave:
Coarsish felspathic sand, 27.00
Drab-colored fine soil, or sand, 45.00
Vegetable matter, 25.00
The soil was dry by exposure in paper, and to the air.
The felspathic sand is coai'ser than that of any part of the Al-
bemarle district. The quantity of tine soil, and of lime also, is
large, and the elements of fertility appear to be suflBcient to con-
stitute a good composition for cultivation.
Swamp lands of New Hanover and Brunswick counties, their composition with
§ 51. The fifth swamp district is in ISTew Hanover county. It is
formed by the Holy Shelter swamp and Angola bay. They both
'are elongated tracts, and drai^i into the eastern branch of the Cape
We find the composition of the soils of the swamp lands of New
Hanover county to correspond with those already given. Thus a
specimen gave, on analysis :
Organic matter, 7.700
Per oxide of iron, 1.000
Silicic acid, 300
Sulphuric acid, trace.
82 NOKTH-CAROLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Carb. of lime, 320
Mechanically separated it gave, m parts :
Felspathic sand, 32.0
Finely divided soil, 49.0
Organic matter, 7.7
The specimen was well dried before analysis, and was black, but
consisted of vegetable matter in small quantity only, and in which
the soil was distinguishable. Still it has been proven produc-
§ 52. A fact which will perhaps strike the attention of a chemist
is the small quantity of iron which exists in all the swamp soils.
It is not only, as we have before stated, in the condition of a pro-
toxide, but it is in a less proportion than in upland soils. How
much influence this quantity of iron may have upon vegetation, to
diminish the chances of a healthy growth, cannot be determined
before hand. Iron is no doubt an important element in soils, though
we believe, upon the whole, that even in the swamp soils it will
be amply sufficient to meet the wants of crops.
So long as these tracts are undrained, charged with water, the
iron will remain in the condition of a protoxide. When drained,
and air replaces the water, it is at least partially changed, and be-
comes more highly oxidated and is, constantly undergoing changes
by which the amount of oxygen is variable, especially when in
contact with a large amount of vegetable matter.
§ 53. The sixth swamp district is confined to Brunswick county.
It is round or nearly so, and presents a very uniform outline, but
its interior is studded with islands, and the swampy part incloses
them entirely or they are connected to others by narrow necks of
hard ground. This swamp lies low and its perfect drainage is ques-
tionable. We have not been able to obtain an examination of sur-
vej^s which were made years ago. It furnishes a vast amount of
cypress for shingles. The timber is well set, large and thrifty, and
NOKTH-CAKOLINA (JEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 83
the indications for fertility are the same as those which have been
The composition of the soil supports the views jnst expressed.
A sample on analysis gave :
Organic matter, 37.50
Peroxide of iron, and alumina 10.50
Carb. of lime, 1.45
Sulphuric acid, trace.
A mechanical separation of its parts gave :
Coarse sand, 2.10
Fine soil, 33.25
Organic matter, 37.50
It should be stated that this soil contained a greater quantity of
half decayed wood sticks than usual, and hence, the proportion of
soil is comparatively less than it would have been by rejecting this
kind of vegetable matter.
§ 54:. Large tracts of this swamp are laid under water by dams
which overflows the high way or roads and the traveler is forced to
drive his team through water from a foot to 4: or 5 feet deep. The
tide of the Cape Fear sets up the creeks some twelve miles from
their mouths, which is indicative of aflat country to within a short
distance of their origin.
The subsoil is often too stift'for easy cultivation, or the penetra-
tion of roots. It approaches in composition and consistence a brick
clay. Thus the silex amounts to 83 per cent, with 21 per cent, of
organic matter, and with only traces of lime, magnesia and pot-
ash. It is probably as in other cases variable in composition.
Another specimen of the Brunswick and swamp soil furnished
by Mr. H. J. McNeil, gave :
Water, , -. 8.000
Organic matter, 34.000
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 10.490
Garb, of lime, 0.490
Magnesia, , 0.490
Sulphuric acid, trace.
Silicic acid, 0.580
The composition of this sample indicates as high degree of fertili-
ty as the Hyde, Washington or Beaufort counties.
While analj^sis furnishes very satisfactory results, it is nol to be
forgotten that the tracts adjacent may be less so, and indeed, not
productive at all. Where changes in the kind of timber are ap-
parent, passing from the cypress, gums, populars and maples, etc.,
to bays, gall-berry, especially if accompanied by a dwarfed condi-
tion, it is an indication that the soil has changed, or the con-
ditions have passed from a favorable, to a less favorable one, and
though the change may possibly be due to influences which deep
draining may remove, yet, in a majority of cases, it is due to the
constitution of the soil. This should be examined, and tested in
they way we have proposed.
§ 55. In a few wet districts we sometimes meet a peculiar soil,
which is, as the people say, salt; but which really never contains
but a little chloride of sodium, or common salt. It is a black
vegetable substance, in part charged with the astringent salts of
iron and alumina. We are induced to speak of this product be-
cause we have seen it from three different parts of the eastern
counties, in Weldon, near Tarboro' and at Mosely Hall, in Lenoir
county. The specimens have the same characteristics, tiiough that
from near Weldon was obtained from a depth of 7(> feet. We
communicated with those interested at Weldon and Tarboro', and
have not preserved a statement of results. The specimens from a
swamp at Mosely Hall will require a brief notice ; though they
deserve a full analysis, yet time will not permit us now to enter
NORTH-OAHOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 85
The substances, which are really swamp products, are black, with
an astringent ferruginous taste. If applied to crops, or if seed are
planted in it, they are of course destroyed.
The black astringent substance contains, in 100 parts :
Water and vegetable matter, 11.70
Silex or sand, 82.30
Protoxide of iron, 1.52
Carb. lime, 0.80
Sulphuric acid, 1.61
The surface of this vegetable matter is crusted in dry weather
with this astringent salt. If this substance were in great abundance
it would be an excellent material for composts, notwithstanding it
is now poisonous in composition. Mixing lime or marl with it will
decompose the present salt and form gypsum. This substance too,
is adapted to use in stables, or any place where aiiimonia is gen-
erated, and escapes into the air. Sulphate of ammonia will be
formed, or even the vegetable matter itself as it is absorbative, will
attract and retain ammonia, but indeed as it is with this salt, it is
an admirable material to spread over the refuse of stables and yards
where noxious odors escape and which are always we believe com-
pounds, containing ammonia or sulphur or both.
From this swamp deposit we have obtained phosphate of iron,
a product which we suppose may have been formed from decom-
posed animal matter ; it is rare one and may be distinguished
from other minerals by its beautiful blue color.
Another product of this swamp we are inclined to regard as a
compound of phosphoric acid, lime, etc., but we are still in doubt
respecting its true character. It is white, inclined to chrystallize
in radiating forms, and is sometimes a white, soft substance, and
in others quite a hard concretion, assuming a cylindrical form.
It is intermixed with grains of quartz, which arc foreign particles.
It gave, on analysis :
Water, , 4.2
Organic matter, 4.0
Silex, or insoluble matter, , $9.^
86 NOETH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKVET.
A substance resembling alumina, 28.0
Carbonate of lime, 4.82
Magnesia, • 0.10
The white substance resembling alnmina, we suppose may be a
compound with phosphoric acid, but we have not the proper tests
to determine full3' its composition ; that it is not ahimina, is proved
by tlie fact, that though a part of it dissolves in water, yet the pre-
cipitate from the potash solution is fused at once in the flame of
the blow pipe. If a phosphate exists in quantity, it is a valuable
substance ; if not in quantity, it is a very interesting one for the
mineralogist. A test for alumina is the production of a blue bead
with nitrate of cobalt in the flame of the blow pipe. There is a
tino-e of blue, when thus treated, but the blueness is not strictly
that which is common to alumina. These several products were
received from Mr. Parrott Mewborn, of Lenoir county, who ob-
tained them in draining a swamp. The foregoing products are the
3iiost important, but another which is excessively sandy and brown-
ish black, we have analyzed. It contains :
Silex, , 91.0
Water, , 2.1 .
Organic matter, 4.5
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 2.75
Carbonate of ILme, . . . . ^ . , ,.,,.... trace.
Compounds having the foregoing composition are worthless, and
seem to have acquired the vegetable matter as a debris, and not
from a growth of vegetables upon the spot.
NOKTH-CAEOLIKA GEOLOGICAL STJKVEY. 8T
Gall berry lands, and their composition. The Savannah lands and their charac-
teristics and composition.
§ 56. Tlie gall berry lands, as tliey are called, are a species of
swamp, but their characteristics cannot be subjected to the exact
rule of the carpenter, nor the legal measure of the grocer ; they
refuse to be subjected to specific technicalities, though they have
certain common characteristics. All lands are not gall herry, be-
cause the gall berry lias taken possession y neither are gall berry
lands all composed of stifP clay ; some are sandy, with black veg-
etable matter concealing it, while uncultivated or unbroken. Gall
berry lands are level tracts, composed of wet and sandy argilla-
ceous matters, or wet sandy, with black vegetable mold intermixed^
and with only small fractional parts of the money elements con-
tained in them in either case.
They seem to have been formed by denudation, by the action of
the waves of the sea, by which the best part of a soil, tlie top, has
been carried UM-ay, as a stratum of stiff, incorrigible, sandy and
ferruginous clay beneath. Over certain areas subsequent to de-
nudation, sand has accumulated along with a coarse vegetable
growth, as water grasses and the like ; in fact, a formation went on
accumulating like the best swamp lands, but the material was a
quartz sand, containing only traces of the nutritive elements. In
the other case, a formation, though slowly building up now, began
with the process of filling up very recently, and the bottom clays
exposed by denudation ; still, from the top or surface the dwarfed
vegetation springs from this incorrigible sandy clay, which is-
poorly mixed, coarse and closely compacted, so as to hold water
about as well as a wash bowl. By evapora^tion in summer, and a
slow leakage, these lands get dry by the middle of July or the first
of August, and then they may be traversed, but they are liable to
become wet by heavy showers, when by the same processes they
again may become dry. In this condition of the soil and surface
the inducements are not sufficiently weightly to tempt the owner
to drain them, for the purpose of testing their qualities for crops
of the cereals, or the less expensive products, the root crops, to-
88 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
•which they are not really adapted. Like other species of land, we
find them variable in composition, but uniformly with a level
surface, and so close that water stands upon them until it evapo-
Their relative position is westward of the kinds of swamp which
have been described ; though lands answering to the gall berry
occur in patches in all parts of the eastern counties with variable
aspects, but always wet, level and with a dwarfed vegetation.
Their chemical constitution gives two extremes; the black,
sand}^ vegetable mold, and the stiff, sandy, argillaceous bottoms.
The former is often mistaken for good swamp soil ; the latter,
never. The vegetation is much the same in both ; coarse water
plants, a few reeds in favored places, particularly on the banks of
streams, small, short and long leaved pines; but the whole aspect
of the vegetation is that which arises from a short allowance of
food, and exposure to cold bottoms beneath, and a chilly atmos-
The silex in all the kinds of gall berry lands is large, the soluble
alumina and iron, small — and the other elements in small fraction-
Thus in a specimen from Sampson county, we found :
Silex, ■ 88.40
Organic matter, 4.20
Peroxide of iron and alumina, 2.92
Carbonate of lime, 02
Potash and soda, trace.
Phosphoric acid not perceptible, 00
But medium results are obtained by cultivation when these
lands are well drained ; but, as it costs as much for draining the
lands as better ones, it is not often done. The specimen had be-
come dry by e'xposure to the atmosphere.
A mechanical separation gave :
€oarae sand, 38.
"Fine soil, , 50.10
Organic matter, 4.20
NOBTH-pA?.QLnyL GEOLOGICAL SFBYEY. 89
§ 57. TTie Savannah lands^ diflfer from the preceding in many
important particulars. They are to the eye, dead level tracts,
open to the snn and bordered by clumps of trees irregularly plant-
ed so as to have open spaces either leading to similar tracts or in-
to the depths of a forest. They are now usually covered vrith
broom grass, and appear rather barren m winter, but in the spring
if the dead grass is burned, they become green and pleasant. "We
have no authentic history or tradition which can be believed in all
respects, in regard to their origin. But they really are miniature
representations of western prairies, and probably originated by the
action of similar causes.
When a certain kind of soil has been forest planted, it con-
tinues in forest for centuries, unless some cause destroys the root
and branch, as fire or water ; and when destroyed and opened to
the sun a thick coating of grass covers the ground so perfectly, that
the seeds of forest trees are deprived of the necessary stimulants to
germination, or if they germinate a repetition of destructive agenta
again occurs, till all seeds at or near the surface have germinated
and have been destroyed. Grass ultimately gets full possession ;
and though in the general it appears only as grass, yet if watched
carefully, it will be found that the grasses have been changing, or
a natural rotation has taken place; the rule ©"f exchange being a
succession of grasses from the better to the worse, by which we
have ultimately in this climate broom grass, an unmistakeable in-
dex of an exhausted soil. This view, however, is sustained only
when the products of vegetation are taken away. Combustion of
the surface materials, followed by winds which transport the light
ash far from the field upon which the plant grew which produced
it, is an exhausting process. Forest fields when once exposed to
the sun by the destruction of their pines, oaks and hickories, are
directly in the road to a prairie, or savannah formation ; and when
the latter is formed, it becomes as permanent aa a forest. As it re-
gards their origin, we incline to the theory, that fire has been the
direct instr«ment& concerned, and is still more or less active, ib
preserving these tracts in a stationary condition. The water theo-
ry, is less intelligible than the fire theory ; the latter explains all
the phenomona as we think better than the former.
The soil of the savannahs is fine, yellowish and compact, not un-
like a brick clay, and so far as we have observed, contains by fap
'%'0 i;f6BTb:-t!AK0LlNA d^lS&^Al. SURVEY.
less coarse sand. It is a liomogeneons soil, in which respect, it dif-
fers from the gall berrj, and it being fine, compact, deep, and still
wet, though not a swamp at all, it still holds always too much wa-
ter for the cultivation of the cereals. The land is cold ; a term un-
doubtedly applicable to this class, in which respect, it differs from
the prairies of the west. It ditfers also from the swamp soils in the
absence of vegetable matter, and from the uplands by compactness
and firmness of material, and hence too the explanation of the
fact, too cold and moist, for the cultivation of the cereals or even
of root crops.
The specimen of soil which has been examined was taken from a
savannah in Craven county, which is being put into a state for
cultivation, and which is owned by Mr. Wood. The Atlantic rail-
road passes through it. These lands in Craven county, though not
so extensive as those of New Hanover, still seem to possess the
same characterics. We cannot affirm that there are not many va-
rieties of savannah lands, still, there are good grounds for believing
that they possess a greater uniformity of composition than the
swamp or gall beriy l^nds.
The savannah soil of Craven, on b-eing submitted to analysis,
Humic acid or soluble organic matter, ,., 2.00
' Phosphoric acid, undetermined,
Silicic acid, 100
Peroxide of iron, 3.400
Carbonate of lime, 600
Chlorine, a large, ^ trace.
Sulphuric acid, , trace.
Ammonia, .0387 percent
The specimen was dried in the air previous to analysis, it there-
fore does not represent the quantity of water held by the soil in
its ordinary condition.
NOBTH-CAROLINA (J?pLiQ|^^ ^TDTI^^T-. 91
The chemical constitntton of the savannah lands appear to be
well composed for durable cultivation. They will require deep
draining and the time required for the escape of water will un-
doubtedly be twice as long as that necessary to drain ordinary up-
land soil, in consequence of the fine state of division in which the
materials exist, and their natural affinity for water. When drained
and dried, we have reason to believe that they will become good
wheat or cotton lands.
92 NORTH-CAKOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Containing brief descriptions of the mineral springs and well waters which occur
in and about Raleigh.
§ 58. At numerous places in Wake and the adjacent counties
several springs have been discovered which are entitled to the appel-
lation oi mineral boaters. Frequent inquiries have been made by
letter relative to them, and in several instances these waters have
been sent to me for analysis. These requests have been complied
with so far as it seemed to be necessary. In most cases, however,
when the general character of the water was known by taste, or by
its behavior on standing twenty-four hours, I have merely made a
qualiatative examination. The water in this neighborhood,
or in the town of Raleigh, are all chalybeates, and though they ap-
pear to be weak, or contain a small amount only of mineral mat-
ter, yet it is sufficient for medical purposes ; for if the quantity was
larger, it would be more disagreeable to the palate, less would be
drank, and it would both affect the head and produce a feeling of
tightness across the chest. The quantity of mineral matter is there-
fore well adapted for use in all eases where chalybeates are useful.
An essential condition for the salutary injiuence of chalybeates is,
their solution in a large amount of liquid matter. It insures their
absorption into the system, and thereby favors their specific in-
fluences, much more than if they were in a concentrated state.
The well waters of Paleigh, which are used for drinking and
cooking rank with as much propriety in the class inineral waters^
as the springs referred to. They differ, however, from them in the
absence of iron, or if it exists, it is but a traee, and in the presence
of chlorides, which exist only in traces in the mineral spring wa-
ters. How muich influence impure well waters have upon the
health of a community is not well determined. But it is well
known that to strangers the common waters of a locality are fre-
quently highl}'^ injurious, and it is probably true that the purer the
water for common use, especially for drinking the better it is, and
there is very little doubt that the best water which can be procured
for family use, is ram water^ collected and preserved in filtering
KORTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 93
cisterns. In summer it would be warm, but cooled with ice it be-
comes a luxury.
There is a great uniformity in the composition of the spring
waters of this description ; the constant differences being a varia-
tion in the amount of solid matter dissolved in the water. They
belong to the class known as chalybeate waters, which contain iron
as the most active and important element. Such springs are
readily recognized by the yellow or ochreous deposit along the
line of flow.
They are limpid or perfectly transparent when they first issue
from the ground and when first bottled, but on standing 24 hours,
a yellowish sediment falls down consisting of iron, lime and mag-
nesia. This takes place in consequence of the loss of carbonic acid,
the matter in solution being retained by an extra atom of carbonic
acid, and hence while the salts are held in solution they are bi-car-
bonates. When the water is exposed to the air the feeble affinity
of tliis extra atom of carbonic acid is such that it soon escapes and
the remaining compound in the water is no longer soluble, and
hence, is deposited in a powder. A tumbler of those waters stand-
ing in the open air sliows the escape of a gas which is carbonic acid.
When the fresh water is shaken with a solution of red cabbage
changed to a tinge of green by ammonia or an alkali, it becomes
purplish again by the carbonic acid which is escaping.
It is claimed that some of the springs contain sulphur ; those
which have been subjected to the action of basic acetate of lead,
have scarcely a perceptible effect upon this delicate test. Silver
vessels which have been used many times become slightly tarnished
in certain spots. Hence, it is possible, sulphuretted hydrogen es-
capes in exceedingly minute quantities.
The springs usually fiow out of banks of gravel and sand iu
place, and which was derived from granite or gneiss. These banks
are more or less ferruginous, but in the best waters they probably
flow from the granite, and thence percolate through the soil.
Composition of some of the waters of these springs:
§ 59. Garter spring, at the garden, one mile and a half from town.
The whole amount of solid matter held in solution in a gallon of
water is 16.72 grains. It consists of chloride of lime, organic
matter, bi-carbonate of iron, lime and magnesia. In all cases, the
organic matter is in the condition of humic, crenic and apocrenic
&4 NOKTH-CAEOLINA GEOLOGICAL SUKYET^
acidsj. which are also in combination with the mineral matter. It
contains also silicic acid.
The IngUiiide spring, two miles east of Raleigh^ is in a fine
grove, and fine drives might be cut ont by opening roads, or tine
walks, as thej would be shaded by avenues of trees.
This spring contains solid matter, about 15 grains to the gallon,
consisting of organic matter, iron, lime and magnesia. The chlo-
ride of lime was not tested for,, but as it is usually present, so
probabl}'^ it is in this water. Its iise has had a beneficial effect
upon invalids in several instances.
The analysis of the spring upon Mr. Boylan^s land, was not pre-
served ; it scarcely differs from the foregoing in the amount of solid
matter, to the gallon. The watei' is pleasant to drink, and is pecu-
liar in its taste.
The water of a spring in Franklin county resena^bles also the fore-
going. One pint of this water contains :.
Iron, in combination with carbonic and organic acids, .2X
Magnesia, _., .10
Organic matter as a whole, 2. IS
To the gallon 22. Y7 grs.
The Dadd spring has a temperature of 60°, air being 78. The
solid matter in a gallon amounts to 16 grs. In a pint it contains :
Organic matter, _ ».. .90
Iron in combination with organic matter, 40
Garb, of Mme, 24
Carb. of raagnesia, 10
Besides the foregoing, we obtained both the chlorides of lime
and magnesia, the latter in a large trace. The Dodd spring differs
from the Franklin county spring in containing less organic matter,
and hence, it is that the iron in it, is more distinct to the taste.
The yellow powder deposited from- mineral springs has a com-
plex composition. It consists of humic acid, crenic and apo-
crenic acids in conabination with the iron, a portion of the carbonic
NOKTH-CAKOLmA. GE0LX5GICAL SURVEY. 95
acid having escaped. The two last acids are detected by the action
of acetate of copper upon the alkaline solution of this ferruginous
deposit. There is no dou%t, also, that phosphoric acid is present
in the compound.
§ 60. The wells of Fayette ville street deserve a place among mineral
waters. They differ from the springs simply, in the absence of iron.
The well at the corner of Fayette ville street leading to the depot,
contains 23.92 grains of solid matter to the gallon, containing alu-
mina, sulphuric and muriatic acids, lime, magnesia and organic
matter, both vegetable and animal. Mr. Askew's well contains to
the gallon, 21.36 grains; organic matter 11.68; saline matter
9.68. The market well contains iS. SO grs. to the gallon ; organic
matter 7.20; sahne matter 13.20.
The Doctor's well contains 21.44: grains of solid matter to the
gallon, saline matter 8.16. organic matter 1.3,28.
To repeat once more, the saline matter in the foregoing wells
consists of, 1, chlorides, or we may call them muriates, muriates of
lime and magnesia;; 2, sulphates, as sulphate of lime, together with
organic matter. The saline matter is white and free from iron, or
merely traces of iron. The brown or gray crust upon the tea
kettles consists of the sulphates and carbonates of lime ; the latter
is formed probably from the orgaiiic salts.
The salutary eft'ects of the spring water, which we have wit-
nessed in several instances, is to be attributed to the iron, which
is perfectly dissolved in the water when it issues from the fountain^
in which condition it is readily absorbed into the system. The
other substances, however, are regarded as aiding in the general